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Montrose Ave. traffic concerns being addressed in Official Plan

The ‘slight bends’ proposed in the Official Plan to be included in Montrose Avenue’s northward expansion to Maley Drive are being replaced with stronger language intent to slow traffic and prevent the road from becoming a thoroughfare like Municipal Road 80 and Barrydowne Road

Whenever Montrose Avenue finally connects with Maley Drive, the city is now expected to take steps to ensure it doesn’t become a thoroughfare like Barrydowne Road or Municipal Road 80. 

This is in accordance with a motion Ward 12 Joscelyne Landry-Altmann put forward during Monday’s planning committee meeting, which passed unanimously.

The “slight bends that would be 50 metres in length compared to a direct connection” proposed in the Official Plan for Montrose Avenue’s northward expansion to Maley Drive were not adequate, Landry-Altmann told her colleagues during Monday’s meeting. 

“The residents felt that just having 50 metres where you have a slight bend that fits into an easement is not sufficient and does not meet the spirit of what was presented in 2016,” she said.

The direction city council provided in 2016, according to her motion’s preamble, was for any changes to Montrose Avenue to maintain and protect “the residential character of the neighbourhood, including appropriate lane widths, identify traffic calming measures including meandering, sidewalks, bicycle infrastructure, street trees and street lighting, and which will encourage local traffic use.”

In the motion passed Monday, the Official Plan will be amended to include a meandering design on the Montrose Avenue expansion “with more pronounced bends to achieve greater reductions in traffic volumes and speeding, non-local traffic and potential heavy truck traffic, to be more in line with the direction provided by council.”

The avenue’s northward expansion to Maley Drive has been long-discussed around council chambers, and was included in the city’s latest Transportation Master Plan, updated in 2016. 

Unlike the city-driven Maley Drive expansion, the Montrose Avenue expansion is development-driven, though the plan recommends the project for construction by 2031.

At a 2013 public consultation session, residents expressed “grave concerns” regarding an increase in traffic volume when Montrose Avenue finally connects to Maley Drive due to people using the road as a connection between Lasalle Boulevard and Maley Drive.

The Transportation Master Plan clarifies that modeling suggests the total traffic volume using the extended road during the peak hour would be no greater than 300 vehicles, which is “a moderate volume appropriate for a collector road.”

The modeling also concludes traffic would not use Montrose Avenue as a thoroughfare, and Montrose Avenue would perform worse if it weren’t connected to Maley Drive, without which “all neighbourhood traffic is forced south on Montrose Avenue.”

A meandering design of Montrose Avenue “is not recommended from a technical perspective,” according to the master plan, noting, “The meandering portion of Montrose Avenue likely will need traffic calming measures as drivers will become frustrated with the increased travel time introduced by the meander and will try to make up for the lost time through speeding.”

Although meandering Montrose Avenue is intended to reduce traffic volumes on the existing portion of the street, the master plan cautions, “It is likely that this action will have the exact opposite effect, with increased volumes and increased speeds on the existing portion of Montrose Avenue, and the need for traffic calming on the new meandering portion of Montrose Avenue.”

Meandering Montrose Avenue, however, was the planning committee’s direction on Monday.

“Lansing is the poster child for this,” Landry-Altmann told Sudbury.com prior to the meeting.

Lansing Avenue connects Lasalle Boulevard with Maley Drive, and ranked high enough on the city’s list of streets in the running for traffic-calming devices (No. 3) that it received bollards this year with the goal of slowing traffic.

Although there hasn’t been a plan presented as yet for Montrose Avenue’s connection to Maley Drive, she said city council is taking a proactive approach by looking at it now.

It took more than a decade for the city to remove the widening of Notre Dame Avenue from the Official Plan, so Landry-Altmann said looking at it now will ensure the ball gets rolling in time to be ready for the road’s eventual expansion.

Landry-Altmann’s motion which passed Monday also includes the addition of an item to the Montrose Avenue plan that “would consider the eventual Woodbine to Montrose to Maley connection to include appropriate traffic calming measures, traffic signals and pedestrian crosswalk or cross-over.”

Although Monday’s planning committee decision still needs to be ratified by city council as a whole during tonight's meeting, the committee’s unanimous support points to a great likelihood it will push forward.

Update: This decision was ratified during tonight's city council meeting without opposition.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.