The 5th Avenue SW lane reversal was found to be successful but will be discontinued due to budget restraints, according to to the city.
A well-used lane reversal along 5 Avenue S.W. that helps to move thousands of cars out of the downtown during the afternoon weekday commute will be discontinued next month.The city says that operating budget constraints have led to the decision to revert the route back to its former permanent one-way eastbound traffic pattern starting on June 10.“Operating budgets are quite honestly very tight right now so we’re looking for opportunities to reduce that and this is one of the operating expenses we’ve decided to cut,” said Pat Grisak, a senior lead with the city’s roads department.“It’s been a very successful project but we’re just at a point where (it’s) not viable to continue with the expense.”An average of 450 vehicles per hour travel the westbound lane reversal between 5 Street and 11 street S.W. during peak times on weekday afternoons.Starting next month, those vehicles will have to funnel through parallel routes on 4th Avenue or 6th Avenue S.W.“There will be some increased congestion, some increased delay,” Grisak said. “We’ll monitor it and make changes as we can to try and improve it (but) there will be additional traffic on those two routes.”The 5th Avenue lane reversal is not permanent and requires city road crews to create a temporary installation each weekday — an effort that has cost the city around $150,000 per year since 2015.Upgrading the corridor to create a permanent lane reversal would cost $2 million to $3 million, Grisak estimated, and the city currently doesn’t have the capital funds available to make the pilot project permanent.One city councillor was asked on Twitter Wednesday about the impact to west side commuters who view the lane reversal as a useful route out of the downtown.“I anticipate we’ll get some data coming back to the transportation and transit committee, and based on that we’ll be able to figure out if a long term fix is needed,” Coun. Jeff Davison tweeted in response.The area councillor was unavailable for comment Wednesday.