Traffic Again   

part 2 of a series


Saugeen Shores is getting in grants approximately $1,600,000 (total cost $2,336,996) to widen highway 21 from approximately River Street to Tomlinson Drive. (note red dots)  As you can see from the map at the left, it is a very short distance and is restricted at either end.

Would some funds be better spent on a  simulation model?  Read below.

We've talked about the need to do some real work on traffic issues in the Saugeen Area in Part 1 of this series and especially the Highway 21 corridor.  The recent proposal to widen a short distance on 21 with one lane in Port Elgin and Southampton, is not a solution.  A number of traffic impact studies were reviewed:

  • The Wal-Mart area done by their consultant.
  • An update for Bricker Street by Wal-Mart
  • A look by an outside consultant hired by Bricker Street residents.
  • McNabb Street and 21
  • Morpeth and 21

None of these impact studies referred to any of the others.  It was like traffic somehow materialized from outer space.

In discussing the issue with one of the consultants, he said that "they do impact studies and that's accepted by the  municipalities of Ontario and MTO."  They've done it for years and that's the way it is.

It appears that all these impact studies are piecemeal, one after another.  Where is the general plan?  If you were a plumber you'd have a plan or you'd end up with the picture shown below

Where is that darn plan, anyway?

Widening Highway 21

Would you buy a 1 inch diameter hose and stick it in the middle of two 1/2 inch hoses and expect to achieve anything?

That's what's being done with the current proposal.  As previously warned, this is just the first of many such things to try to cure what's coming. It will cost incrementally many millions of dollars. What's needed is a plan.  How should the plan be done?

What Experts Recommend

(next column)


According to many experts and the one listed below, simulation is by far the best way to plan.

Although empirical1 models are available for the analysis of traffic capacity problems, they do not offer the precision required for the design of complex highway networks and signal control systems operating at, or near to, their capacity limit. When empirical1 approaches become infeasible, simulation offers a powerful tool to answer "what if" questions. Microscopic2 simulation models will provide the ability to represent and respond to circumstances in a way which traditional modeling tools cannot. The main socio-economic benefits expected will include reductions in levels of congestion, environmental degradation, collision rates and energy consumption as well as providing improved layouts for truck and transit movements.

1empirical  implies traffic impact studies... counting cars at intersections, using guidelines published by MTO for average trip rates from single households etc.

2 Microscopic in contrast to macroscopic,  traffic flow models simulate single vehicle-driver units, thus the dynamic variables of the models represent microscopic properties like the position and velocity of a single vehicle.

Andrew MacIver
Assistant Professor of Transportation Engineering
Department of Civil Engineering
The University of Calgary
2500 University Drive N.W.
Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4


The Town should hire a full time traffic engineer and do a simulation model for the Highway 21 corridor and feeder streets to H'way 21  running from the CAW Centre to the B-Line.

This would produce a plan that can save millions of dollars. Commercial software exists off the shelf to do this. Training is relatively short  and all the impact studies could be integrated into a whole.  It should be done as soon as possible. It will save tax payer money and eventually lives.