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Lathom Road ‘is not a highway,’ say Port Alberni residents

Neighbours petition city for solutions to speeding traffic using Lathom as shortcut
The intersection of Helen Street and Lathom Road in Port Alberni. (ELENA RARDON / Alberni Valley News)

The City of Port Alberni is looking at ways to stop speeding traffic on Lathom Road.

A petition, signed by 75 residents living in the area of Lathom Road, came to council back in March of this year. A letter signed by the residents noted that traffic, both commercial and non-commercial, has increased on Lathom Road over the last five years as drivers have chosen to use it as a “shortcut” to get around heavy traffic on Johnston Road. Unlike Johnston Road, however, Lathom Road is not a highway.

“Lathom and Rex are relatively narrow roads compared to other major roads designed in the city,” the letter reads. “They were not designed as a commercial thoroughfare or alternative major route (excepting, of course, emergencies). The cumulative impact of acoustic disturbance and the extensive increase in enforcement reporting burdens on otherwise peaceful residents has now reached fever pitch.”

The conversation was forwarded to a meeting of the city’s Advisory Traffic Committee on April 17. According to Coun. Charles Mealey, city council’s representative on the committee, the committee discussed the issue with residents in the Lathom Road area and proposed adding a four-way stop at the intersection of Helen Street and Lathom Road.

Council told city staff during a regular meeting on May 13 to prepare a report outlining traffic calming opportunities on Lathom, including the installation of a four-way stop. Council also directed staff to proceed with traffic counts in the area.

Coun. Cindy Solda said these traffic counts are important to understand how the road has gotten much busier.

“The pattern has changed. Traffic has changed,” she said.

Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions said the issue also emphasizes the need for a traffic master plan, so that city residents don’t have to bring their complaints to council in order to get work done.

“Then we’re really just making decisions based on who comes and brings a petition or complains to us,” said Minions. “It’s great for community members to do that, but there could be several other roads out there. This isn’t how these types of decisions should be made.”

She did acknowledge that Lathom Road residents brought forward a “valid concern in an organized way” and said that she sees the issues on Lathom Road, as well.

“It is a reasonably busy road for being a residential road because it is being used like a through road for getting around busier areas,” she said.

Council also discussed looking at additional safety measures on upper Argyle Street.

Mealey says a school district representative came to the last Advisory Traffic Committee to point out that there is no crosswalk on Argyle Street between Anderson Avenue and EJ Dunn Elementary School. City staff will work on another report about this.

Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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