A Lakeshore Road resident of 48 years, Reid Fowler has his own idea for addressing an unstable section of this route well used by vehicle traffic going in and out of town.
“I probably know more about this little stretch than just about anybody else. I think I’m a long-term resident now,” laughed Fowler, a retired professional engineer, as he walked down his driveway towards the busy Lakeshore Road. His home is just south of 17th Avenue NE, in a portion between 10th and 20th identified in a 2017 geotechnical report as being medium to high risk in the short term, both to public safety and of catastrophic failure.
After carefully making his way across the road, lined like a Jackson Pollock painting with asphalt crack sealer, he pointed out sections beyond the wood and metal barrier lining the shoulder where parts of the steep embankment leading down to the railway tracks appear to be eroding.
It’s 3 p.m. and traffic would give any pedestrian cause for concern.
“It’s a hell of a thing to ask people to walk along here without a sidewalk, so any option that does not provide a sidewalk to me is utterly irresponsible,” said Fowler, referring to one of three options the city has proposed to stabilize the road. The option Fowler referred to would have traffic continue flowing both ways without a sidewalk/multi-use pathway. Referred to as option 3, this proposal comes with an estimated cost of $1.8 million. Option 1 involves maintaining two-lane traffic and adding a multi-use lane ($2.1 million), while option 2 would result in a one-way street for southbound traffic, with the multi-use lane ($1.5 million).
Residents have until April 7 to complete a questionnaire on the three options on the city’s website.
Fowler suspected the work needed to provide lasting stabilization would require more than the $2.1 million of option 1. He suggested a fourth option that he believes would cost substantially less: placing a gate across the troublesome section of that would essentially restrict the road’s use to local traffic, cyclists and pedestrians. He said it could be open in during winter so Lakeshore Road residents wouldn’t have to drive down 2oth Avenue NE.
Several doors down, neighbour Ellen Murray waved Fowler over. A resident of Lakeshore Road for 35 years, Murray recalled a time 31 years ago when the city, then a district, acquired a portion of her property as well as neighbouring properties for a right of way, with the promise of a sidewalk that never came to fruition.
“At this stage of the game I don’t think they ever intended to build it,” commented Fowler. “That’s why option three, which is a super highway with no sidewalk, is unacceptable.”
Murray petitioned her neighbours on the current options. The majority, however, signed in favour of an option similar to what Fowler proposed: closing Lakeshore Road to local traffic only. In a letter to the city accompanying the petition, Murray said none of the city’s proposed options appear to offer a long-term solution to the ongoing stability and erosion concerns, while traffic volumes appear to be increasing.
As an alternative, Murray suggested keeping Lakeshore Road a two-way route for locals, and one way for all other vehicle traffic. She argued tax dollars are better spent on fixing the problems of slippage and erosion along Lakeshore, and enhancing alternative traffic routes for residents of subdivisions to the north who utilize the route.
Reflecting on the steady traffic zipping by, Fowler noted how in the mid-1970s his kids used to set up a Kool-Aid stand in front of their home. Now he worries for his neighbours who have to walk down road to collect their mail from the mailbox.
“I prefer walking on the other side because I can jump over the edge if I need to,” said Fowler.
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