Growing pains slow Stonebridge commute

The StarPhoenix October 28, 2013 - Alycia Reinhart likes living in Stonebridge but, rush-hour traffic congestion can make entering and exiting her neighbourhood frustrating. “If I’m not going to be home by five then I just stay out a little later,” she said.

Traffic is a growing issue in the south Saskatoon neighbourhood as it expands. Temporary traffic measures such as a three-way stop where Preston Avenue meets Gordon and Hartley roads have caused significant delays coming in and out of the neighbourhood.

“It can be pretty much a nightmare at rush hour,” said Reinhart. “It gets backed up all the way (down) Preston for like an hour and a half.”

Stonebridge is growing faster than expected so the infrastructure has to catch up with that growth, said Angela Gardiner, manager of the city’s transportation branch.

“The thing to keep in mind is that a lot of roadways, as they appear right now, are not the final construction of the roadways,” said Gardiner.

Coun. Mairin Loewen, who represents the area, has fielded many complaints from frustrated residents even before current construction in the area closed a portion of Preston Avenue.

The city is looking at a number of options to alleviate the traffic including the recent reopening of Hunter Road, an unpaved, gravel road just south of Circle Drive Alliance Church, and a possible traffic circle at the three-way stop location, said Loewen.

With the area near completion it’s affecting more people than the city anticipated, she added.

The main east-to-west thoroughfare in the community is its own source of confusion, changing names four times as you drive down it. It starts in the west as Melville Street, turns into Stonebridge Boulevard after Clarence Avenue, then to Gordon Road after the traffic circle and finally becomes Harvey Road after Preston.

It’s also a narrow street, often with cars parked on either side, leading to some close calls when two cars meet each other.

The city is looking at alternate forms of transportation to help with the congestion. Loewen said retrofitting Stonebridge with bike lanes would be “difficult” but she would support any initiatives that would make biking a better option.

The city has also added a direct bus route from Stonebridge to the university and Loewen hopes that a direct route downtown can be implemented as well.

“We do understand. There is a lot construction and it’s a neighbourhood under development,” said Gardiner. “We’re doing what we can ... to improve the access.”

Gardiner and Loewen both said the flow of traffic should improve when the neighbourhood is complete.

Work on an interchange in east Stonebridge that will feed out to Highway 11 is scheduled to begin construction in 2014 and finish in 2015.

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