Side-Street Side Effect: Main Street Road Rage Provokes Resident Rage

By Joe Paraskevas

Cars – many travelling at high speeds – cutting through Old Ottawa East side streets have become the first side-effect of Main Street construction.

2015Feb Photo Morning Traffic

Main Street Traffic in February. Photo by John Dance.

City hall and Ottawa police are scrambling too, trying to respond to a growing number of resident complaints about the problem.

Police have taken up positions to try to ticket offenders at rush hours. Coun. David Chernushenko said more such measures would follow.

‘There are plans to monitor traffic and to put in place a variety of temporary traffic calming measures,” Chernushenko told the newspaper. “Speed signs, some physical speed calming measures, as well as additional police surveillance and enforcement are all being planned on a larger scale than what is in place at this early stage.”

A police spokesman also tried to assure residents that officers were aware of the Main Street overflow.

“The Ottawa Police Service will take the appropriate measures with any vehicle that is found to be driven in an unsafe manner according to rules of the road,” said Sgt. Cameron Graham. “(Police) will respond accordingly to complaints from the public about any traffic related issue. Central District Traffic officers have attended the Main Street area and have done enforcement regarding the complaints from the public. Officers are aware of a number of issues in relation to the construction on Main Street and will conduct enforcement during their operational duties.”

It didn’t take long after road work began late last year for drivers to attempt short cuts down side streets to avoid the congestion on Main. Angry residents began peppering authorities. Some also contacted the Mainstreeter.

“It seems to me like both Clegg and McGillivray have increased traffic,” said Herridge Street resident Brad Manning. “And not just more but it seems like there’s more speeding. For example people cut across McNaughton to McGillivray and then up behind Immaculata (High School).”

“When Main backs up and commuters start peeling off to Mason, Mutchmor, McGillivray, they often lack respect: speeding, blowing stop signs, cutting corners,” said Don Fugler, who lives on Mason Terrace. “These are the people I would like to see ticketed for bad driving. Enforcement will become critical if cut-through traffic increases.”

One woman, who lives on McNaughton Avenue but did not want her name used, held out little hope the latest efforts by authorities would do much to reduce the number of speeders through her neighbourhood.
“The turning restrictions at Main and McNaughton were installed more than twenty years ago and they have never been enforced,” the woman said. “Those of us living on McNaughton can attest to their ineffectiveness.”

Chernushenko dismissed the suggestion the unwanted traffic cutting through side streets would somehow become normal as Main Street construction, expected to last up to three years, drags on.

“Temporary behaviour rarely translates into a new long-term habit,” he said. “It was certainly not the case in the Glebe following Bank Street reconstruction, even though almost all traffic had been diverted down O’Connor for approximately 18 months.

“Once Main Street is complete in its new form, few drivers would have any reason to use less direct residential streets,” Chernushenko added. “If necessary to address a carry-over effect, I would work with the community to add new restrictions.”

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