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Prior Street Update: Disappointment and Frustration at City

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Strathcona Residents Express Disappointment and Frustration at City over Prior Street Calming

Friday, Feb 8, 2013, Vancouver, BC | Strathcona residents are angry
and frustrated following City staff's revised plans for viaduct removal,
which fail to consider traffic calming on Prior Street.

In the 48hours since the staff presented the revised plan,
there have been three significant traffic incidents on Prior/Venables
- the most serious of which tragically resulted in at least one fatality last night.

Residents had expected a revised plan following Mayor Robertson's
July 2012 direction for five clear pieces for staff to report back for viaducts
removal consideration. Included in his directives were immediate
traffic calming improvements which he described as "overdue" and
ensuring that a Malkin Street connection "becomes a top priority as
part of this initiative".

The plan that was presented to residents in a well-attended meeting wednesday night
failed to consider either the community's concerns or the mayor's directives.
The plan shows an expanded six-lane Pacific Boulevard, to connect downtown,
Yaletown and False Creek traffic to Prior Street as the "major east-west connector".

City staff indicate that recent expanded street parking hours and enhanced
pedestrian crossings are sufficient for community concerns and the mayor's directive,
and that traffic strategies for the roads east of Gore are too complicated to include
in the viaduct removal / land redevelopment scheme.
The report going forward will be focusing on the viaducts themselves
and a decision on the east-west connections will be considered at a later date.

In the hours following staff's presentation, the community has reported three significant safety incidents:

1. Thursday AM: Pedestrian struck and injured at Venables and Clark.

2. Thursday AM: Car runs red light on Prior and Campbell, at speeds fast enough to jump curb and sidewalk, through a tree, hedge and fence before hitting a house hard enough to shake the neighbours. The location is busy pedestrian crossing, with senior's care facility, bus stop and Strathcona Park all adjacent.
video: http://youtu.be/qVx_AG1xkio
photos: http://strathcona-residents.org/car-hits-house-feb7/index.html

3. Friday AM: Alleged street racers on the viaduct's eastbound approach to Prior Street
flip car at high speed, resulting in at least one fatality and three serious injuries.
The mangled car wreck can be seen about 50 metres from residential homes.

BACKGROUND

Prior Street traffic reflects the community's forty-year struggle to
fight the freeway expansion that would have destroyed the
neighbourhood. Residents were able to stop the freeway, but not the
viaducts, which deliver an intolerable level of traffic to a road that
was not designed to accommodate it.

The calming of Prior Street, which local residents have been awaiting
since the viaducts were built in 1972, is endorsed by the Strathcona
Residents Association, Raycam Community Centre, Grandview-Woodlands
Area Council and has support in the communities of Crosstown and North
East False Creek.

Residents had held a several hundred strong traffic calming rally on
July 6th 2012 and a community open house on July 7th with councillors Geoff
Meggs, Tony Tang, Adrienne Carr and Park Board Commissioner Constance
Barnes in attendance. The open house saw the presentation of the
Strathcona Residents' Association commissioned traffic calming plan for
Prior Street ReConnect Strathcona (http://reconnectstrathcona.ca).
Meggs, a former Strathconan, has been working with staff and residents
towards finding solutions for the traffic-beleagured community.

On July 24, 2012 as a result of the community's concerns,
Mayor Robertson issued two clear directives for a revised viaducts removal plan:
1."residents along Prior Street have made a very compelling case in addressing their longstanding concerns about traffic and I believe that some immediate improvements are warranted, reinstating the parking being one of them, looking at traffic calming options like speedbumps is another, but I think that addressing that is overdue and certainly that needs to be addressed with the decisions going forward"
2. "that we need to pursue the Malkin Street connection. It's been in the background for years and it's time to act on it and I think there's an opportunity with the viaducts and the Eastern Core plan to fastback the Malkin Street connection, to look at the federal infrastructure funding that's coming down the road so to speak and make sure that that becomes a top priority as part of this initiative."

The revised plan for viaducts removal is expected to be presented to Council in March.

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