When I learned that the city’s traffic engineering department was getting advice from CIMA+ in regard to improving the accident-prone intersection of Albert and Gore Streets, I almost upchucked my cookies.
CIMA+, after all, was the same outfit, supposedly experts in traffic, the city approached for advice after line painters from Guelph in 2015 changed the traffic configuration at the intersection of Albert and East Streets that had been in place for 50-plus years.
Receiving complaints from within and without, the head honchos in the Public Works and Traffic Department, in a move that defied logic, sought outside advice rather than simply ordering the lines returned to their former state.
CIMA+, reading from a drawing the traffic people supplied that showed only the Albert-East intersection and not how it had moved efficiently two lanes of traffic up East Street to Wellington, sided with the line painters, even going so far as to recommend that the yield sign on East Street leading into the intersection be removed, something the city folks declined, thankfully, to do..
If you think I am having trouble letting this fiasco go, you would be right.
A couple of months back I contacted the two Ward 2 councillors, Lisa Vezeau-Allen and Luke Dufour, providing them with drawings as to how the route had been, how it now was and the drawing the city had supplied CIMA+, hoping as they were new councillors that they may take an interest in the issue.
I never got the courtesy of a reply, something that was always a given when I approached members of past councils over the 45 years I have been writing this column.
Anyway, let’s get to the issue at hand, the intersection of Albert and Gore Streets.
Council at its meeting last week adopted staff’s recommendation to add a stop sign to the northbound approach on Gore Street at Albert Street and that the eastbound lanes on Albert Street between Andrew and Gore be reduced to one lane.
Gore Street will remain two lanes, at least for the time being, to see how things go.
CIMA+ in its report indicated that there were an average of 17 accidents a year occurring at the intersection since the traffic lights had been removed in 2016 as part of a city-wide effort to facilitate traffic movement.
I am surprised at the number of collisions and would have liked to have seen some information as to why and how they are occurring, why motorists are seemingly ignoring a stop sign on Albert that has been in place for four years and what role the two lanes of traffic played, which had to be considerable since one lane is being eliminated.
Rather than jumping all the way to installing a stop sign on Gore Street at the intersection, I would have preferred starting off with larger signage on Albert for the stop sign there and also the installation of an overhead flashing red light, seeing if this would reduce the accident count.
After all, Carl Rumiel, the city’s manager of design and transportation engineering, told council the new stop sign on Gore Street would be equipped with a red flasher to ensure it’s properly noticed by Sault drivers.
“We agreed some time ago, when we’re putting up new stop signs, to use the rapid red flasher above the new stop signs for a period of 30 days.” But he indicated that here the flasher would stay.
Since the accidents are occurring because of eastbound traffic on Albert Street entering the intersection when it is not safe to do so, it would seem to only stand to reason that a flashing red light be installed there also.
In regard to my thought about the flashing light on Albert being a good first move, it that didn’t work then consideration could even be given to reinstalling traffic lights.
Rumiel said CIMA+ did touch on that but he said, off the cuff, it would be in the quarter-million-dollar range to put the traffic signals back at that intersection.
Off the cuff? Whatever happened to proper estimates, such as being obtained from companies involved with the installation of traffic lights or even turning to the Internet, which I did.
On the City of Toronto’s website I discovered that a new signal installation costs between $80,000 and $160,000 per installation, the higher cost seemingly dependent on multiple factors, none of which I would see affecting the Sault operation.
As well, those figures would be cut back considerably here since, with Albert and Gore Streets both being one way, only two sets of lights would be required. This would also cut down on maintenance costs.
Reinstalling traffic lights would also mean that Albert Street would not have to be reduced to one lane, saving the approximately $50,000 it is going to cost to do that.
In regard to traffic lights, there would also seem to be another alternative. The lights at the intersection of Wallace Terrace and Goulais Avenue could be removed, as staff had recommended four years ago but which was blocked by the Ward councillors at the time, Ross Romano and Joe Krmpotich, and put in at the intersection at issue
But my druthers still would have been to start off with a flashing red light at the stop on Albert.
The reduction of Andrew to one lane between Albert and Queen Streets was mentioned during the discussion. I think there should be eye-high marking of the closing of the one lane as I almost went over the curb the first time I approached it. It is hard to believe we are so bad at driving that things like this are required.