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Residents rattled on Royal Avenue
Theresa Henry-Smith’s home on Clinton Street used to be her sanctuary.
Beyond the ivy-gabled front gate, flanked by gardens bursting with eggplant and Swiss chard, she and her husband lovingly restored the heritage house while she painted, and pursued writing projects.
Then the new Port Mann Bridge opened and Henry-Smith and some of her neighbours in the lower end of the Queen’s Park neighbourhood say their walls and well-being are getting rattled by the increasing number of trucks using Royal Avenue.
“It’s like a train, but it lasts all day,” said Henry-Smith, who suspects many of the truckers are accessing the Pattullo Bridge from Royal so they can avoid paying the toll on the Port Mann.
Henry-Smith’s next door neighbour Jordan L’Abbe said he’s started closing his windows while conducting piano lessons.
“The increase in truck traffic on the street has become increasingly disruptive,” said L’Abbe.
A few doors away in a 14-unit townhouse complex on Park Row, Paul Clarke said many of the residents are constantly straightening pictures on walls, and rearranging china cabinets to keep plates from rattling due to the constant vibration.
Some have found cracks and fissures in their walls.
“Sometimes we wonder if there’s been an earthquake,” said Clarke. “We’re looking at what we can do to dampen the sound and vibration.”
Henry-Smith said over the 20 years she’s lived near Royal, she’s become used to the constant background buzz of traffic, but the crashing of container and dump trucks as they pass over bumps in the road surface, and the grinding of gears as they speed up or slow down has become so bad recently she welcomed the construction that has closed two lanes of Royal as a bit of a respite.
“I’m so stressed, I’m just going crazy at my house,” said Henry-Smith, who’s sought refuge by taking her work to restaurants and coffee shops.
The new Port Mann opened in December.
Eugene Wat, the city’s manager of infrastructure planning, said traffic counters placed on Royal near the Pattullo have noted “a general 10-20 per cent increase in truck traffic since last fall.”
“We are watching it closely,” said Wat. “From the city’s point of view, the livability impact is a concern.”
Another resident who lives in a heritage home on Royal said trucks regularly flout overnight restrictions.
“Trucks constantly drive up and down Royal Avenue prior to the posted 7 a.m. signage,” said the resident in an email. “Honestly, how many local businesses are receiving medical supplies from the same company at 6 a.m. to warrant four to six west-bound trucks?”
Wat said the city will keep an eye on the bylaw infractions.
“I don’t doubt that truckers are trying to cheat and use Royal when they’re not supposed to,” said Wat.
But a longterm solution will have to come from ongoing discussions the city is having with TransLink, the city of Surrey and the Ministry of Transportation as part of the Pattullo Bridge review process, said Wat.
“We have to analyze the complete picture,” he said.
Henry-Smith said she’s started wearing earplugs and turning on her radio overnight to help mask the noise.
“Your home should be your refuge.”