City to build Stewardson crossing

River Drive and West End residents could be using a new crossing on Stewardson Way sometime next year.

The city will install a traffic-controlled pedestrian crossing from Grimston Park to the south side of Stewardson.

City engineering manager Jim Lowrie said the plan is to include the project in the 2015 capital budget.

The city is still working out the details for the project.

But Lowrie said the crossing would be similar to the one that was there before the province rejigged the north end of the Queensborough Bridge.

Lowrie said that crossing was located where the province had jurisdiction of the thoroughfare. The new crosswalk will likely be a little east, where the city controls the property.

For years, the West End Residents Association (WERA) has asked the city for an overpass, saying too many people jaywalk across Stewardson.

Current options are the overpass connecting pedestrians to the Queensborough Bridge, or the light down at Fifth Avenue.

Judging by the number of jaywalkers it appears both options are too inconvenient.

Coun. Chuck Puchmayr said there was hesitation to put in a crossing because it would slow traffic flow.

But building an overpass is too expensive, and the current situation too dangerous. He also feels the existing legal routes are dark, unsafe corridors. People living on River Drive need a crossing, he added, especially student who attend Lord Tweedsmuir elementary.

“I took up the position as to what our residents need as opposed to what our [vehicle] cross route needs are,” said Puchmayr.

“It’s totally doable, it’s not a huge cost. It’s a lot cheaper than losing a life. It’s going to happen sometime soon.

He added the location should be where it would get the greatest use.

He said the point was driven home to him last October when he picked up NDP transportation critic Claire Trevena for a tour of New West. Before the tour she had a meeting at Southern Railway of B.C. offices on River Drive. She got off SkyTrain at the 22nd Street Station and, only armed with an address, found herself dodging Stewardson Way traffic to get there.

“Oh my god you should have seen what I had to do to get there,” Puchmayr recalls her saying.

Lowrie said city staff will begin a feasibility study this month to see what’s possible. He added the situation is complex since there is a four-lane highway parallel to a two-lane road. The Transportation Ministry would also have to put up warning signage.

WERA chair Elmer Rudolph said a pedestrian crossing would be a good interim solution.

“These days the correct solution is an overpass,” said Rudolph. “More importantly is what the people of River Drive think about that. They’re the ones most isolated by that. They have indicated they would be satisfied [with a controlled pedestrian crossing].”


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