Hill street blues: must keep barriers

Maple Ridge residents fear dead-end road will soon become a thoroughfare

Hailey Williams

Hailey Williams

It’s just a few simple pieces of concrete, but for Maple Ridge father Al Robbie and the other residents of Hill Avenue, the temporary traffic barrier helps keep their kids safe and brings life to their quiet subdivision.

The District of Maple Ridge wants the jersey barriers gone, though,  and that means what was one a dead-end street will become a thoroughfare for rat-running commuters.

When Robbie and the other residents of Hill Avenue moved into the Creeks Crossing subdivision seven years ago, the road was a dead end.

However, the road now continues through the neighbourhood, connecting Hill Avenue to the Mainstone Creek subdivision and 102nd Avenue.

The barrier has been in place for the past two years while the adjacent subdivision was being constructed. Now that those homes are nearly completed, the district plans to remove the barrier and repave the stretch of road, something many residents in area don’t want to see.

“It’s like a cul-de-sac,” says Robbie. “The kids play hockey here, and you don’t have to worry about the traffic.”

More than 150 people came out to a block party Robbie organized last weekend in support of keeping the barrier.

“We wouldn’t be able to this with the barrier gone,” he said.

The problem is impatient drivers who cut through the residential neighbourhood to 102nd Avenue in order to avoid traffic on 240th Street. Robbie said he once witnessed a jeep drive up onto the sidewalk, cutting through an adjacent vacant lot, to get around the barrier.

Residents in the area begun circulating a petition asking Maple Ridge to consider keeping the barriers in place, and have also requested speed bumps be installed in the area to slow traffic.

However, Michael Eng, the District of Maple Ridge’s traffic technologist, says the jersey barriers have to go to allow traffic to flow through the neighbourhood.

“We have to offer residents options to get in an out of their neighbourhood,” he said.

Speed bumps could cause more harm than good, he notes.

“What we’ve heard from our emergency services is that they adversely affect response times,” Eng said. “More so with ambulance service.”

In order to slow traffic through the area, Eng said the district has narrowed Hill Avenue. “Making roads narrower changes driver behaviour, and they slow down,” he said.

However, the speed limit will remain at 50 km/h, and Robbie is concerned the narrow streets will actually make it more dangerous, as cars will have less space to maneuver.

Eng said the district plans to meet with residents to address their concerns, but no date for such a meeting has yet been set. “We’d like to discuss options and exchange ideas,” he said.