Road to nowhere

looking north on Booth, from Primrose
looking south from Primrose, Booth is closed again at Somerset

Booth Street … what did our neighbourhood do to deserve such an abused street?

Legally a local collector, it is of course abused by thousands of motorists daily who use it as a shortcut between the Queensway and Chaudiere Bridge. Every year on Nov 11th we notice it is deserted, which establishes that it is used by civil servants (who don’t work that day) and not by private sector, teachers, or university profs (who do work that day). But who the motorists is, is of less import than the fact that the street shouldn’t be carrying the volume of traffic it does. And the City is unwilling to do much about it.

Local community associations prefer the notion of (partially) disconnecting the street from Albert when the new Albert/Booth intersection is built in 2013. But alas, the City is showing that intersection as having 7 or more lanes  … the better to stack up the traffic. They might make it look like Baseline/Woodroffe, but it will never function as well. And they still want to direct a lot of through traffic into the Dalhousie residential neighborhood.

The main excuse they come up with? Traffic is like water. Dam it up at one location, and it will flow over onto adjacent streets. Yeah yeah. Pardon my scepticism, what of the motorists that don’t make as many trips? Or combine trips? Or car share? Or switch to transit? Or, in the longer term, make alternative housing location decisions? Or decide to take or not take a particular job offer because of its travel consequences? (people do consider travel time and cost, don’t they??). There is indeed a fair bit of traffic literature that shows removing a road link decreases the total traffic volume.

Block it, and they won’t come.

So this brings me back to Booth Street. It can’t be closed to rush hour motorists, claims the City. But it is closed right now, and will be for another month. So where are the plans to put out traffic counters on Preston, Bronson, Rochester, Albert … to measure the traffic flow during the closure and again two weeks after the street reopens?  Surely this is a marvelous real-world experiment opportunity to measure the short term consequences of removing Booth from the network. Will the City let it slip from their fingers? Do they not want to know?


For those curious about the reason for the current closure, it is because new sewers etc are being installed at the Somerset/Booth intersection. The City took advantage of the closure to also dig up the Booth/Albert intersection. And, at the same time, the construction of the “world’s ugliest slum wall” ™ is being facilitated by the lane closure on Albert.

Hull-bound motorists that bypass Booth by using Rochester then get stuck at the Primrose/Booth intersection where they can drive into the intersection but find there is no way out except U-turning in the intersection. Hilarius.

the city insists it cannot close this southbound thru-lane, it would be chaos.

 the world’s ugliest slum wall ™


9 thoughts on “Road to nowhere

  1. Now with Scott St. repaved, the section of Albert between Bayswater and Bronson is one of the city’s most neglected. The picture of the Albert/Booth intersection captures its condition perfectly.

    Booth’s plight highlights that the city is lacking a dedicated N-S arterial road. E-W traffic has several options (Albert/Scott, 417, Carling, Baseline, Huntclub) which are suitable for the volume and type of traffic, but N-S axis is mostly narrow, residential, surface streets (e.g. Parkdale, or Bronson) which are not suited for the volumes and type of traffic that use them. While building more roads (and encouraging more cars) is not the answer, building smarter roads that address (and remediate) existing problems can make for better, safer communities.

  2. What is the rationale behind that wall? I’m not trying to be snarky, I just honestly have never seen a wall like that before. Why is it being built?


  3. I’d have to hazard a guess at the wall – noise barrier? Gives residents a small amount of “front yard” and privacy from the busy road? Who knows. Wasn’t there a similar wall thing there before?

  4. Judging by the amount of extra traffic on Preston St in the late afternoon/early evening when I am walking my beagle I would suggest the traffic has temporarily moved there.

  5. There used to be brick walls of varying heights along Albert. Initially, the were built as sound barriers. The bricks spalled from salt spray. Built on concrete foundations, they trapped excessive moisture between the retaining walls and the houses (poor drainage) and the city is installing better drainage along the fronts of the houses. New concrete walls west of Rochester are built on the old foundations; walls near Booth and near Preston are totally new.
    Hopefully there will be plantings in front of them to replace the 30 year old trees the city chopped down for this project; hopefully there will be trees planted behind the walls; hopefully it will look decent when done.
    Mind you, my mother thinks I am too optimistic.

    1. Thanks for the explanation! I’m skeptical of how much help that wall will be in blocking sound, since it seems to only go as high as the raised front doors of the homes, and offers no protection at all to what look like the bedrooms and living space on the upper floors. Personally, I’d rather have sunshine, trees, and street access at the front of my house than the “quiet” offered by a wall like that one, but I don’t own a home on a major street so I guess I’m not really in a position to make that call.

  6. As a long time resident of the usually quiet and leafy surrounding Dalhousie residential neighbourhood which Booth Street bisects, I am truly at a loss as to why there has not been more public commentary and criticism to our councilor regarding the ‘land that time forgot’ along the Booth and Albert intersection. If elements such as, dramatically increased property values and heritage designation are used as indicators, this has clearly emerged as a very desirable corner on the western side of the core. The streets bordering Booth are well kept, and village like, and yet are right downtown and thus are very sought after. It is an area also impressively connected by transit with the Lebretton station, and just west, the O-train. All this a few minutes walk east to Parliament and the Government district, and west or south to the culinary delights of Little Italy or China Town. So why have local residents not said more about the poor front face presented by Albert and Booth? The lack of any cohesive street scape is almost bleak in what could be seen as a key pedestrian entrance to the area, with trees, and commercial amenities. These would in turn link to the Transit station and newly emerging residential area north in the currently ostracized Lebretton development behemoths, care of Clareidge.

    I recognise that Booth Street is a key connector to Hull, via the Eddy Bridge, however, I have yet to figure out why the city has focused on keeping Albert Street as the main feeder to the downtown core, rather than putting more flow on the newly constructed Wellington, Parkway intersection just north in front of the War Museum. It is already at least 6 lanes wide, and was built to have turning lanes, that have yet to be used. Furthermore, it is infuriating and illogical that when driving east along the parkway, upon reaching the Booth Street intersection, one cannot turn left, to go to Hull. To my mind, the logical course would be to reconnect Preston Street to the Parkway, which is currently blocked, and reduce flow on Booth street at Albert. Preston is already a major thoroughfare, as is the parkway, with very few residential properties along it.

    I, for one, have long lamented the stark landscape that emerges along Albert Street, and was very happy to see the redevelopment along the north side with the new tree lined path atop the water pipe construction, however, it stopped short of ameliorating the intersection at Booth and Albert. The area is well serviced by acres of well maintained park space, just north of Albert Street, and yet NOTHING ever seems to come of proposed development along Albert, which would could dramatically change the face of this vibrant area, and connect the two halves, north of Albert and south. Parking lots and increased traffic flow seem a ridiculous lost opportunity for this central neighbourhood.

    * As an aside, it is interesting to note, that for well over 100 years Booth street did not cross Albert Street, there was no intersection here, and traffic was channeled along Albert and old Wellington, making more use of Preston and Rochester.

  7. I’ve noticed some traffic monitoring equipment recently went up on Preston (near Somerset) and on Scott street (west of Preston)…maybe the City is taking the chance to use this opportunity to see how traffic flow changes.

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