Negligence or incompetence?

October 14, 2016   ·   0 Comments

SOMETIMES IT’S SMALL THINGS that upset you more than major issues.

A case in point is traffic lights that suddenly turn red in front of you when there’s no apparent reason, in the form of vehicular or pedestrian cross-traffic. The reason, you’ll be told, lies in some form of “ghosting,” in which the computer controlling the signals is told there is traffic or a ‘walk’ button has been pushed when in reality a sensor in the pavement is malfunctioning or the button has jammed in the ‘on’ position.

However, on occasion you come across something that simply doesn’t make sense and cries out for corrective action.

A classic case in point is found at the intersection of Highways 10 and 89 at Primrose, where those responsible for improving the location seemingly visited it and learned nothing.

The “solution” arrived at by engineers from the London-based West Region of Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation was to provide a new ramp for the northbound traffic on Highway 10 wanting to turn east on to Highway 89, and to add one lane for the tiny handful of vehicles wanting to proceed north on Dufferin Road 19 (a roadway that gets so little traffic that Dufferin County wants to turn it over to Mulmur Township).

But as for the 90 per cent-plus northbound vehicles whose drivers want to continue on Highway 10, the signal programming doesn’t even provide the advance green given westbound traffic on Highway 89. The result is incredibly long lineups on Friday evenings – lineups so long that many drivers opt to turn on to Mono’s 30 Sideroad, confronting that gravel roadway with far more traffic than it’s designed to handle, and adding unnecessarily to maintenance costs and Mono property owners’ tax burdens.

The problem has led Mike Dunmore, Mono’s Public Works director,  to write Stephen Del Duca, Ontario’s current Transportation minister, complaining about the problem. “Our gravel road network is not able to act as a relief for your Ministry Highway, and ratepayers for the Town of Mono should not have to financially back the cost of maintenance for this.”

Of course, any engineer with a modicum of training who examined the intersection would need perhaps 30 seconds to come up with a solution to the problem that would require nothing more than a little white paint and a change in the software governing the signals.

The paint would be used to mark the northbound “through” lane as available for both through and left-turning traffic and to guide the two lanes of turning vehicles on to the two westbound lanes of 89.

The signalization would be modified to provide separate phases for the northbound and southbound traffic, with the northbound phase operating for up to 40 seconds and the southbound just long enough to handle the few cars coming off Dufferin 19.

The result should be complete elimination of the weekly backups, the only price being a little less time for east-west traffic, which would still have four lanes available.

Of course, the real question to be asked is why such an easily solved problem should ever have existed, and why the response of MTO officials in London to every cry for improvements such as widening of Highway 10 to four lanes between Camilla and Primrose, installation of left turn lanes at the intersections and provision of a Shelburne bypass are invariably greeted with a “not warranted” response that’s unsupported by any evidence.

All we know at present is that north of Camilla a highway that obviously carries about 20,000 vehicles on the Friday of a long weekend has seen no improvement of any consequence since it was paved in the 1920s, and that the Nottawasaga River bridge  built half a century ago was to what was then a four-lane standard, in the apparent expectation that in a few years the highway would be widened.

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