Clark St. car-tastrophe: Brand new median to be torn up
The brand new median separating bike path from car traffic on Clark St. in the Plateau will be torn up and made smaller after it was determined the lane would make it impossible for emergency vehicles to squeeze between parked cars.
The road was recently dug up near around the Laurier intersection to make way for a bike path protected by a concrete median wide enough to plant trees. It was installed only three weeks ago.
While cyclists said they loved the new path, some residents and merchants said they were led to believe there would still be parking on both sides of the street.
However, due to the width of the path and the median, residents say the street was too narrow to accommodate parking on both sides while also leaving room for traffic. They said they were especially concerned about emergency vehicles, such as ambulances and firetrucks, which are wider than average cars.
On Monday night, the city announced plans to shrink the median between Laurier and St-Viateur. In a statement, a spokesperson for the executive council called the bike paths "a major project to upgrade infrastructure" that is part of the city's goal of "Vision Zero."
It said it intends to reduce the medians on sections of the road between Laurier and Saint-Viateur from 1.8 metres to 1.5 metres to ensure emergency vehicles will be able to pass through, as well snow removal operations.
The median will also be interrupted by a five-metre opening every 60 metres to improve snow removal operations, the city said.
“It was a mistake and it was a lack of communication,” admitted borough councilor Marie Plourde.
She said she doesn’t know where the communication breakdown happened, but said she will accept the blame.
“Thank god somebody woke up before the pavement was done and all the project was done,” she said.
Work will continue on Clark until October as planned. City officials were unable to say how much redoing the work would cost.
Despite the mea culpa, locals said they have been irritated by roadwork that has now proven to be wasteful.
Resident Dave Jackson said he was told the project would take a month and work has been going on for seven weeks.
“I took a tape measure out myself, I measured 26 feet,” he said. “The firemen were here about a week ago, they put a car on each side and the firetruck couldn’t fit through the centre.”
Naomi Charron said the work has affected deliveries in the area and those with limited ability who aren’t able to reach their cars because of the median, which was built wide enough for the city to plant trees.
“While the city has acted to increase the accessibility to cyclists, they’ve really forgotten pedestrians, as well as residents,” she said. “The city repeatedly has claimed to have consulted with people and they haven’t consulted with the right people.”
Caffe Grazie Mille owner Nat Scalia had expressed concern for a loss of business before the changes were announced on Monday. On Tuesday, he said he was relieved to hear customers would still be able to find parking.
"It's great, at least we'll have some customers that are going to be happy and we'll have some more parking spots for us," he said.
But the fact that the work had to be redone has left a bad taste in his mouth.
“That's a real disappointment because our tax dollars are now being wasted for absolutely no reason," he said. “Somebody should have checked the work was being correctly done from the beginning."