The intersection of Booth / Albert fails for several hours a day. Mostly this is due to our city policies of catering to single occupancy vehicles. Drive them by the thousands, and we will widen the roads for you! Right now the “tailback” or long queue of vehicles trying to get onto Booth to go to Gatineau extends back to Preston on the west (often blocking that intersection) and back to Empress or even Bronson on the east. On Booth south of Albert, in the heart of a residential neighborhood cruelly sacrificed by the city traffic engineers at the altar of car supremacy , cars stack up in a line that always goes back as far as Somerset and sometimes back as far as Gladstone.
Right now there is one turn lane for cars to stack up in. The left turn lane from Albert eastbound is constrained in length by the need to have a turn lane onto Preston. The City proposes to “ease” the situation by constructing a double turn lane on Albert. One lane will be the same length as the current stack lane, the other will likely be the entire block from Preston to Booth. The planners justify this construction as being necessary to move the bus traffic through the intersection once the existing transitway is closed. However, the additional stack lanes will be permanent, not temporary, and there is no word of making a stack lane specifically for buses. Instead cars will clog up the lane and transit users will be able to proceed only as fast as the slowest single-occupancy motorist.
This proposal strikes me as ill-thought-out. We cannot continue paving over valuable downtown development land for such low value uses. The stack lanes are justified as being for transit, but offer transit no special advantages. The widened Albert Street will simply deliver more cars to an already failing intersection at Booth / Albert. This part of the LRT plans definately needs a rethink based on principles of traffic demand managment (instead of coping with cars, figure out a better way to move people through the area / intersection).
While details are not available, the decision to build the Preston Extension will likely require the construction of right and left turn lanes on Albert on both sides of Preston. Why do ostentiously transit-oriented projects result in so much road engorgement for commuters? The future Albert is looking a lot less like a city street and more like a mini-freeway.
Note to critics of LRT costs: the construction costs of the new Preston Extension and Booth / Albert intersections and Booth overpass over the transitway, primarily of benefit to single occupancy cars, will be billed to the LRT project rather than having some apportioned to the general transportation budget. Transit users and tax payers get hosed once again, car users get more hidden subsidies.