Delegation pleads for action on dangerous intersection

December 20, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

More than 700 local residents are calling on Orangeville Council to fix what has been described as a “dangerous, unsafe intersection” on Riddell Road (Dufferin 109). 

Neighbours Dana Crane, Melanie Chapman and Debbie Van Wyck took Council to task on Monday evening, protesting over what they perceive to be a lack of action on the part of the municipality to improve driving conditions and promote road safety in and near the Settler’s Creek subdivision. 

“We are here speaking tonight on behalf of over 700 residents in Settler’s Creek, requesting this Council consider implementing some serious changes to increase safety in our community,” said Ms. Crane. 

The group made three requests – for Council to consider installing advanced greens for drivers looking to turn left at the intersections of Riddell Road and Spencer Avenue/Centennial Road, and Riddell and Alder Street, and introducing two four-way stops on Spencer, so as to alleviate growing concerns over speeding. 

The Riddell and Spencer/Centennial intersection was of particular concern, following several collisions in recent years. Back in 2017, a 67-year-old local man was killed after attempting to make a left turn from Riddell onto Spencer Ave and being struck by oncoming traffic. 

Coun. Todd Taylor, a resident of Spencer Ave., first introduced the idea of installing an advanced green at the intersection back in January. Doug Jones, the Town’s General Manager of Infrastructure Services, noted that Dufferin County, which shares custodianship of Riddell Road, completed a traffic study of the bypass in 2018 which determined that, based on traffic counts, there was no justification, as per the Ontario Traffic Manual, for installing advanced greens at any point on Riddell Rd apart from the existing one at Townline.

Further, Mr. Jones indicated there was no reason to believe the particular intersection could be considered dangerous.

“Having looked at the presentation, it struck me that the concerns of residents dealt less with volumes of left-turn traffic, and dealt more with the geometry of the intersection, with there being difficulty to see (oncoming) traffic,” Mr. Jones said. “That was something discussed (during the study), but ultimately it was determined the layout of the intersection is conventional for intersections that involve islands, and there don’t appear to be any vertical constraints at these intersections.”

Coun. Taylor retorted that he “fundamentally disagrees” that the intersection could be considered safe.

“You cannot see past the traffic in front of you to turn left onto Spencer Ave. from Riddell Road,” Coun. Taylor said. “If there is a true solve, it would be to rip apart the intersection. I’m not suggesting we do that, but the intersection, in my mind, was not set up in a way that is easy to navigate. The way the island is currently set up, as a driver you’re stuck. You almost have to pull out and back in just to make the turn. The gentleman that passed away, he made a bad judgment and paid the price.”

The main argument against installing advanced greens along Riddell Rd., it would appear, centres around concerns they would affect the flow of traffic along what is considered a “main arterial road” in the community. 

Mayor Sandy Brown suggested the construction of a roundabout in the vicinity of the intersection could be an ideal solution. Something of a newer concept in North America, roundabouts are used extensively in parts of Europe, most notably in the UK, as a way to keep traffic flowing. 

After watching Council and staff go back and forth on the issue, Ms. Crane opined this was a serious issue that, she believes, has a relatively simple fix. 

“I appreciate the fact you think you need to do studies, and talk about this, but we’re here tonight to make sure nobody else is killed. This issue is only going to get worse,” Ms. Crane said. “There have been numerous accidents at the corner since it opened in 2017. The Town has the ability to fix it. You have the ability to protect citizens. We have 700 people who have signed our petition who want you to help keep their family safe.”

Regarding the issues of speeding along Spencer Ave., Ms. Crane noted this was a problem that has gotten “out of control” over the past 12 months. 

According to statistics provided by Orangeville Police Service, nine speeding charges were laid along Spencer Ave. in 2018, the year Council lowered the speed limit to 40 km/h, and labelled the area a community safety zone. Thus far in 2019, 67 speeding infractions have been registered along Spencer Ave. 

“We believe it’s just a matter of time before something tragic happens,” Ms. Crane said.

She requested that Council direct staff to install four-way stops along the road, something that would force speeders to slow down. But Mr. Jones noted that, per the Ontario Traffic Manual, four-way stops should only be considered when two relatively equal roadways with similar traffic demands intertwine. He also suggested it would be inappropriate to implement all-way stops to help alleviate issues with speeding. 

Mayor Brown suggested photo radar could be an option for the road, with the Province now seemingly on board with allowing municipalities to make use of automatic speed enforcement technology. The City of Toronto began installing photo radar in various school zones throughout the city on Monday. 

Regardless of the results of the traffic study undertaken in 2018, and the specifications and justifications outlined in the Ontario Traffic Manual, Coun. Lisa Post suggested Council “has a responsibility” to find some traffic calming measures to ease some of the concerns brought up by the delegation. 

Mayor Brown made a motion that Mr. Jones investigate costs associated with installing advanced greens along Riddell Rd. at both Alder St. and Spencer Ave., look into how much it would cost to hire a consultant to carry out a thorough review of the safety and practicality of the intersection of Riddell Rd. and Spencer Ave., and, finally, to have staff reach out to their counterparts at the City of Cambridge to discuss how and why that municipality recently transitioned a busy lighted intersection into a roundabout.

“So… Nothing about speed reduction along Spencer Ave.?” Ms. Crane immediately quested.

Coun. Post made a secondary motion that staff come back to Council with a variety of options to address speeding in the area. 

“This isn’t just about traffic calming, it’s about safety too. If stop signs aren’t the answer, I’d like to see alternate options that could be put in there that will take care of the community safety aspect,” Coun. Post said.

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