County to monitor Blyth intersection through 2018 - March 2, 2017
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Huron County Council has decided to take a wait-and-see approach to the intersection of Blyth and London Roads and the many residents who feel a traffic solution is necessary.
At council’s committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 22, Huron County Engineer Steven Lund presented a report on the intersection and recommended the installation of a four-way flashing beacon to help bring attention to the stop signs on the roads running east and west in the intersection.
Several councillors, however, felt there was too much changing at the intersection to make a decision now and said things may change in a hurry and the county wouldn’t want to tie its own hands on the issue.
In his report, Lund said that current traffic at the intersection represents 55 per cent of the required volume that would warrant traffic signals. However, he suggested that the county continue monitoring the intersection and the impact the new Tim Hortons development and Blyth Cowbell Brewing Company make on the intersection when the latter is open to the public.
He did say, however, that neither of the traffic impact studies conducted for the Tim Hortons and Cowbell concluded that traffic volumes would rise high enough post-development to meet traffic volume requirements for a traffic signal.
Pedestrian traffic, he said, is also not a concern, saying that because sidewalks don’t extend to the intersection, there aren’t enough pedestrians walking around the area to expect any issues.
Motor vehicle collision concerns were also not high enough to warrant action, Lund said. Seven collisions had been reported at the intersection between 2014 and 2016. Four of the seven collisions were a result of drivers failing to yield at one of the stops signs, while the other three came as a result of drivers following too closely.
None of these collisions, he told council, are considered to be reducible by traffic signals. If the collisions involved turning or angle movements, he said, they may have been avoided by traffic signals, but none involved such movements.
Also, because none of the collisions resulted in fatalities, that justification for traffic signals, he said, has not been met by the intersection.
Lund did say that the speed of both eastbound and westbound drivers continues to be a concern with the average approach speed being 68 kilometres per hour in a 50- and 60-kilometre-per-hour zone on London and Blyth Roads respectively. However, he suggested further police presence in those areas to help alleviate those concerns.
With oversized stop signs and rumble strips, the county has done all it can do, short of a four-way beacon or a traffic signal in order to control traffic at the intersection, Lund said in his report.
Cost was another concern, he told councillors, in that the installation of traffic signals would be $350,000 and the construction of a roundabout, another solution proposed by critics of the intersection, would cost the county between $1 million and $1.5 million. A four-way flashing beacon, as stated in Lund’s recommendation, would cost the county $25,000.
Warden Jim Ginn again expressed his concerns, saying he felt that traffic would be increasing considerably at the intersection once Blyth Cowbell Brewing Company opened its doors to the public.
For this reason, he said, he felt the justification for a traffic signal would be there next year, but that the county would need the data to prove that need.
Ginn said that the owners of Cowbell have grand plans to attract “thousands, not hundreds” of people to the area and he felt that once that happened it might make sense to install traffic signals.
He said he didn’t feel like the four-way beacon would solve any issues at the intersection. He suggested that the county continue to monitor the intersection throughout 2017 and revisit the issue in 2018.
North Huron Reeve Neil Vincent addressed the lack of sidewalks at the intersection, saying that the township has acknowledged that the intersection could be dangerous for foot traffic and didn’t want to encourage more of it at the intersection by installing sidewalks.
Howick Reeve Art Versteeg said that he felt the development at the intersection was solving the problem.
Versteeg, who says he drives through the intersection weekly on his way to Huron County Council meetings in Goderich, said he had noticed drivers slowing down to gaze upon the development. He said he had seen that drivers were being more cautious as they drove through the intersection because the area was being built up.
Council passed Ginn’s motion. Staff will continue to monitor the intersection throughout the year and revisit it in 2018.