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Residents say traffic detours affecting road safety in Sharp Hill

On May 13, several Sharp Hill residents spoke to the Airdrie City View about the blatant disrespect shown by drivers in their neighbourhood, disobeying the speed limits, passing cars along the narrow roads, and endangering people who are out walking or biking.
Traffic was at a stand-still through the Sharp Hill community during rush hour on April 29.

Ever since a section of the north-south service road from Kingsview Road SE to Range Road 294 was permanently closed on April 15, residents of the Sharp Hill community have noticed a tremendous increase in traffic cutting through their neighbourhood.

While most residents in the Rocky View County community just outside of Airdrie’s southeast city limits sympathized with motorists searching for alternative routes, many expressed concerns about road safety when the Airdrie City View canvassed the area on May 13, speaking to roughly 15 residents.

“There's definitely people that go through here at way more than 30 kilometres an hour (km/h). We don't have sidewalks, so if anybody is walking or riding bikes, it's very dangerous that way,” said Sharp Hill resident, Linda Duhn.

In January, the City of Airdrie announced the impending permanent closure of Kingsview Road at Sharp Hill Way to facilitate construction of the 40 Avenue highway bridge and overpass and northbound QEII off-ramp. 

On May 13, several Sharp Hill residents spoke about the blatant disrespect they argue has been shown by drivers in their neighbourhood, disobeying the speed limits, passing cars along the narrow roads, and endangering people who are out walking or biking.

“If we drive at our normal speed, people speed around us. There's a lot of disrespect. I don't care if they come, but [please] respect the speed and the people on the roads,” said one resident, who asked to remain anonymous.

Some residents said the City should have considered establishing detour routes to get from Airdrie to the Balzac industrial area before shutting down the service road. Many residents noted bumper-to-bumper traffic during rush hour periods.

A gate with emergency-access only was opposed in the past, but in February, 60 per cent of residents requested a gate be positioned at the south end of the community to allow residents to continue accessing services in Airdrie.

The issue came before Rocky View County’s (RVC) council on May 17, with council approving an emergency-only gate being installed at the south end of the community, along Township Road 264 and Stage Coach Trail.

“Residents of Sharp Hill will be notified in advance of the closure with additional warning signage located at both the north and south entrances to the community,” stated a notice on RVC's website.

While several residents voiced their opposition May 13 to closing one end of the community, residents were divided on which end should be closed.

“Let's gate the south entrance and take a breather because it would inconvenience us both. We will all have to drive around,” said Sharp Hill resident Michelle, who asked to only be referenced by her first name.

“It seems most people moved out here to have the conveniences of going to Airdrie… Everybody is going to be inconvenienced if we close the south entrance, we're all going to have to drive around to go to Calgary. I think that's fair.”

But several residents on the south end of the community were against closing that entrance, arguing most residents use it to get to work in Calgary.

“They feel like they need a gate, but give us all fobs or something to get in and out if they're going to block it,” said Barb King, a resident on the south end.

Residents brought up possible solutions to improve safety on local roads, like increasing police presence during rush hour times, adding speed bumps, or installing more stop signs.

Aside from the safety aspect, residents questioned how a gate would affect emergency response times or property values.

Another anonymous neighbour added she would rather see the increase in traffic than have to drive all the way around to get to Airdrie due to a closure at the north end.

“I do sympathize with RVC because their road is going to get wrecked,” she said.

There was no planning ahead or caring about traffic coming through by the City of Airdrie, she added.

According to RVC's staff report for the item at the May 17 meeting, Range Road 294 averaged 2,200 vehicles per day based on a traffic count from August 2019, and there are no current plans to reconnect that same route.

Traffic enforcement has increased since the mid-April closure, with 28 hours spent patrolling the area between March 23 and May 3. During that time, 52 violation tickets and six warnings were issued, with the majority for speed violations and four for truck violations.

“Some days it's quite hectic – you can't even get out of your own yard,” said another Sharp Hill resident who asked to remain anonymous on May 13. “There’s a lot more heavy trucks coming through here. Having said that, I've also seen a lot of peace officers pulling them over and issuing tickets or finding out where they're going.”

According to RVC, traffic through Sharp Hill nearly tripled from an average of 681 vehicles per day to 2,211 vehicles per day since the closure of Range Road 294, but the average speed of vehicles through the community has not increased since the closure and no significant increase in truck traffic has been observed.

One long-time resident claimed the increase started gradually 12 years ago, but he estimated it recently jumped up by about three to four times.

“This road here has become a speedway. I've seen them passing cars, it's 30 km/h here as you know. Last week, one fellow passed a car going at a very excessive speed and not paying attention. He almost had a head-on collision with another car going south,” he said.

Masha Scheele

About the Author: Masha Scheele

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