NANAIMO — A partial road closure is coming to hopefully stop drivers from using an otherwise quiet Rock City neighbourhood as a popular shortcut.
Nanaimo Council approved a staff plan to partially close Opal Rd. at Rock City Rd. The change would eliminate access from Rock City onto Opal and only allow right turns leaving Opal.
A staff report said the road is often used as a shortcut between Uplands Dr. and Rock City, as non-local drivers try to avoid busier Departure Bay intersections to access residential areas to the east.
"I happen to live on a street that's used often as a cut-through to avoid a major route and what that means is folks who don't live on the street or in the neighbourhood often don't drive as safely as people who do," coun. Erin Hemmens said in voicing her support for the traffic change.
A City staff report said while speed humps installed on the 24-home street in 2008 reduced speeding concerns, volume steadily increased over the last decade.
"The average daily traffic on Opal Rd. is now over 1,400, whereas local roads have a capacity for 1,000," the report said, noting there are no cycling or pedestrian facilities on the road.
Councillors Tyler Brown and Sheryl Armstrong voted against the partial closure.
"I do not believe in partial roadblocks because what happens is people just go around them and it actually causes more problems and more accidents...I foresee a head-on (crash) happening there very easily," Armstrong said.
Brown, meanwhile, said the staff recommendation was at odds with research he's studied.
"The direction other places seem to be going is to maintain a more distributed model of traffic flow...This idea of funnelling everything to collector (roads) is just not a path I can support."
Staff said they will continue to monitor traffic volume at the major intersections where Uplands and Rock City meet Departure Bay Rd.
"Those are intersections that have been on our radar for quite a while regarding traffic volumes and whether or not we should be considering traffic signals there. At this point in time, even with the diversion, they're not at a threshold where we would consider a traffic signal," transportation manager Jamie Rose told Council.
The partial closure is expected to cost $15,000.
On Twitter: @domabassi
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