Old Yale speedway gets lanes trimmed

Council agrees to reduce travel lanes from four to two on Abbotsford road

A four-lane stretch of Old Yale Road notorious for speed scofflaws is getting an overhaul.

The road will be reduced to two travel lanes between Eagle Mountain Drive and Whatcom Road, with a centre turning lane and bike lanes added in each direction. A crossing signal will also be installed at DeLair Park.

Staff say traffic on Old Yale isn’t heavy enough to require four travel lanes now or in the foreseeable future. But speed is an issue, particularly in the 30 km/h playground zone beside DeLair Park.

Mayor Henry Braun and several councillors expressed hope that the changes may slow traffic down while also bolstering the cycling infrastructure in the area. Coun. Les Barkman cast the lone vote against the changes.

“As a general rule, I’m not overly excited about taking traffic lanes away on busy roads,” Coun. Ross Siemens said.

But he said he accepted staff’s assurances regarding traffic volume.

“The speeding … is a huge challenge in the area and I think the bike lanes and the narrower travel lanes I think will slow the traffic down. I think the science has proven that.”

Coun. Dave Loewen noted that, several years ago, city made similar changes on Peardonville, Road, which he said “was a virtual highway.”

“Lo and behold, the traffic has slowed down and it continues to move, and there’s room for bicyclists.”

And Braun said the move will ensure that speeders can’t rush past those obeying the posted limits.

But Barkman wasn’t persuaded. He said Old Yale is a “busy, busy street,” and expressed skepticism that the new design of the road would be adequate as more people move to the area in the coming years.

“We don’t have a lot of east-west roads,” he said.

Barkman later told The News that Peardonville still has traffic issues, and that narrowing Old Yale could lead to issues. He was also skeptical about the suitability of bike lanes for the road, and said cycling lanes need to be implemented as part of a comprehensive plan.

City staff are currently crafting a new Transportation Master Plan, but a draft has not yet been seen by the public or come before council.

As for the speeding, Barkman told council that Old Yale, like other streets in Abbotsford, could use some more speed enforcement. (Braun later said that the city doesn’t “have enough police officers to write tickets all across the largest geographical city in the province.”)

During the council discussion, Loewen also urged staff to provide a better east-west route across Sumas Way for cyclists. Loewen said that at some Sumas Way intersections, “cyclists take their lives into their own hands if they want to make that trip.”

Staff also told council that although volumes don’t yet meet the threshold for a traffic signal at Old Yale and Marshall, that may change in the near future.

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