Cemetery construction traffic rerouted after residents' complaints
Heavy trucks going to and from a construction site at Forest Lawn Memorial Park will have to use its northeast entrance on Royal Oak, says Burnaby city hall.
Area residents raised concerns about safety and noise at last week's council meeting after learning that the inconvenience they experienced last year, during Phase 1 of the project to build more burial plots at the cemetery, was set to be repeated this summer.
With the trucks using the pedestrian-oriented Moscrop Street to enter and exit the cemetery in 2012, area residents complained resulting in some truck drivers being ticketed and city hall requiring all the truck traffic to use the northeast entrance, on Royal Oak near Canada Way.
This time around, Forest Lawn hired traffic consultants to find a solution and they proposed that for Phase 2 trucks would enter at the entrance in the middle of that stretch of Royal Oak Avenue, and only exit at Moscrop.
The truck traffic is expected to continue for up to 90 days, six days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and all the construction work is taking place on the northwest corner of the site.
The proposal didn't win over residents and a delegation packed the council chambers to express their opposition.
Barry Davis, Burnaby's acting director of engineering, said in an interview that even before the last council meeting city staff were still working with Forest Lawn and their traffic consultants on a better solution. The result is all construction traffic will be required to use only the cemetery's main entrance on Royal Oak, near Canada Way, which is the designated truck route.
Davis said the northern end of the cemetery site already has issues with traffic congestion and trucks using the northeast entrance would add costs to the project, including additional traffic flagpersons.
While the city generally tries to strike a balance between the needs of businesses and residents, it was clear after the delegation that it "wasn't in anyone's best interests to go that way," he said.
"[Forest Lawn] will deal with the issues onsite and they will have to manage the traffic in and out on the city side appropriately which means they may have to invest more in some onsite work so that they can manoeuvre more easily and they'll have to provide traffic control as well."
The reluctance to use the northeast entrance was due to the fact it's very close to several of the cemetery's onsite roads, its administration offices and public and staff parking. Davis noted that any traffic backups on site created the potential for traffic backing up onto Canada Way, something the traffic consultants were trying to mitigate.
But with the new agreement in place, Forest Lawn is "going to have to put more traffic control in place so that they manage the funerals and the traffic coming onto site better," he said.
"It's very welcome news indeed," said area resident Ron Thompson who spoke to council on behalf of his neighbours. "We're relieved we'll have our neighbourhood back this summer."
Thompson gave kudos to Mayor Derek Corrigan, council and city staff for responding to their concerns so quickly, and to Forest Lawn for agreeing to the new plan.
Nevertheless, he said, "we will remain vigilant" to ensure the plan is followed and he's hopeful that the plan will set a precedent for future phases of the cemetery project.