Big trucks that trundle over the Rideau River through the community of Manotick have been an issue in the village for decades, now residents want their community removed from the City of Ottawa's truck route map.
The Manotick Village and Community Association has produced a report, which it recently sent to city staff, indicating 89 heavy trucks used Bridge and Main streets each hour.
Residents say they are fed up after raising the issue with the city, so they spent some time last spring counting truck traffic themselves, including cement mixers, flat beds, dump trucks and tractor trailers, between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
"It was somewhat cathartic and frightening at the same time," said association president Grace Thrasher.
"We did see some very scary near misses involving pedestrians that made our hair stand on end."
The northeast corner of Bridge and Main is a particular problem, she said, with trucks leaving behind tire tracks on the sidewalk several times each hour.
The owner of the Creekside Bar and Grill, Adel Mahfoub, says he and his staff will sometimes hop up because they hear heavy braking or a scream, but have yet to see a serious incident.
Thrasher also worries about safety for the two seniors' homes and the elementary school on Bridge Street.
"This is not a rural village lifestyle. This is a King Eddy environment that we're living in right now," said Thrasher, referring to the long-standing problem of trucks weaving through downtown Ottawa along King Edward Avenue and across to Quebec.
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The village association says the ultimate solution would be to remove the bridge in Manotick from the city's map of permitted trucking routes.
That would require collecting data and doing consultation in a city-wide study that could cost between $300,000 and $400,000, according to the city's director of traffic services.
"There are no plans for the City to undertake this work at this time," Phil Landry wrote in an email.
The route won't likely change, explained city councillor Scott Moffatt, as almost every river crossing in the city is a truck route, and there are just three bridges in the south end — at Barrhaven and Riverside South, at Manotick, and at Roger Stevens Drive.
Staff point to data that show truck traffic decreased after the Barrhaven bridge opened in 2014, but Moffatt and Thrasher agree it has increased again.
Most trucks carry cement, roof trusses and other building materials to booming subdivisions in south Barrhaven, while some are travelling to new distribution warehouses that serve people ordering online. Many cut east and west between highways 416 and 417 to avoid central Ottawa.
Moffatt has pushed for short-term fixes, such as having an intersection and roundabout installed. City staff do expect a consultant's report by early 2022 with options to make the corner at Bridge and Main safer for pedestrians.
"Is any of it enough? In the eyes of many, no. And I recognize that," Moffatt said.
Yet, other solutions cost money and will take years, Moffatt said, such as extending Earl Armstrong Road to direct trucks north of Manotick. A new city council after the 2022 election will have to approve the next list of must-do road projects and make choices.
"What are the priorities? If we know trucking is something that's only going to increase ... either we prepare for it, or we just continue to experience the same issues that we're having and we continue to have communities upset," said Moffatt.