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Neighbours on Esquimalt's Rockheights Avenue seek lower speed limit

Increased afternoon rush-hour traffic along a residential street in Esquimalt has residents calling for a lower posted speed limit and more enforcement.

Neighbours in the 800-block of Rockheights Avenue wrote to council this summer with concerns about safety on the street, which includes a blind curve and a steep downhill grade toward Lampson Street.

"We've almost become a thoroughfare," said resident Kathryn Bussanich, who lives at the crest of the hill on the northwest side. "Why are we set at 50 (km/h) when all the streets around us, like Colville (Road) and Lampson, are 40 and 30?"

After 4 p.m., when the amount of traffic rises significantly, some vehicles reach speeds upwards of 60 km/h on the downward slope, she said. That leads her to worry about the safety of children on the street, as well as residents backing out of driveways blind to drivers heading down the hill. The street is also a walking path for students from both Rockheights middle school and Esquimalt High.

The matter comes before council on Monday night. A staff report on the issue recommends the speed limit be changed to 30 km/h for the length of Rockheights Avenue, from Lampson to Old Esquimalt Road.

Reasons for drivers to use Rockheights as a cut-through route may not be quickly apparent when looking at a map. Mayor Barb Desjardins pointed to traffic calming changes to Old Esquimalt Road as one of the reasons.

Staff were directed to look at various options, including a stop light at Lampson – a pedestrian-controlled light already exists on Lampson a few feet from the corner – and speed humps. The end goal is to reduce speeds on Rockheights, she said.

"With kids going back to school, we felt we really needed to get this done as quickly as possible," said Desjardins, who has spoken with VicPD Insp. Keith Lindner about enforcement.

Bussanich's husband, Derek, foresees a potential domino effect happening.

"If we get the limit reduced, maybe we can get the speed enforced, and it might reduce the volume if (drivers) can't go as fast," he said.

Monday's meeting gets underway at 7 p.m., following an in-camera meeting at 5:45.

ddescoteau@vicnews.com

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