Council frustrated with not being able to make a local decision

With the rapid growth in population in Saugeen Shores, the intersection at Ivings Drive and Goderich Street in Port Elgin has become a high traffic congested area.

Many Bruce Nuclear workers live in the Port Elgin area and on returning home traffic back-ups are a regular occurrence.  In addition, with the area being a major tourist destination during the summer months, the traffic situation at the intersection is exacerbated.

                               Friday, January 25 at 1:30 pm

Many residents and members of Town Council have recommended that a left-turn lane be installed to alleviate the traffic.  Unfortunately, because Goderich Street is also a provincial highway, the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) must give its approval for any intersection change.

Amanda Froese, Director of Infrastructure and Development,  said that Ivings Drive had been identified in the past as being needed to bring it up to standard and that two impact studies were done on this intersection. She said that it is the last intersection in Port Elgin that needs an agreement with MTO.

In the 2019 budget, $15,000 was recommended for a consultant to be hired to do a design study .  Government legislation requires that traffic studies have to be completed. 

She explained that if the report comes back saying that improvements are needed then construction would be done in 2020.  If however, the report says that a change is not warranted, then Council will have its answer. 

Deputy Mayor Don Matheson agreed that there is a need.  “This has been discussed many times by the previous Council and I don’t understand why we need a consultant.  This is a slam-dunk.  We know the amount of traffic that goes through there and we need a left-turn lane with Bruce Power and more coming into town and it is the last intersection to happen.”

“There is no way around this,” countered Froese.  “It is a legislated requirement by the province in the agreement with MTO.  What takes the time is to wait for peak traffic in the summer to do a traffic count.  It would be ideal to have the traffic counters there for 24 hours to two weeks.”

“This is just another regulation set out by the province,” added Mayor Luke Charbonneau, “and they just continue to add up.”

With irony, Councilor Dave Myette said that he has been doing a study on the intersection for the past 22 years.  “I am convinced a left-turn signal or change is required.  Can we just not duplicate the left-turn signal that is at Market Street?”

Froese said that it is up to the traffic professionals to come back with the right solution.  She explained that there are two options, to have a dedicated left turn lane or to have an advance green light and traffic delay.  “It is based on delay time and how many vehicles get through the intersection and how many are delayed and the level of service is then graded.  It feels worse for us here in the community because it is the worst intersection in town but it may still not meet the level of service that is considered so poor that the MTO would encourage a left-turn lane.”

“This is not for convenience,” she added, “it is a matter of safety so that the engineers who sign off on this will ensure the solution is the right one.”

Vice Deputy Mayor Mike Myatt said he regularly sees traffic cutting through a parking lot to avoid being delayed at the light.  “Now that is a real safety concern.  I hear constantly from the public to please put in a left-turn lane.  This is another cost that is borne by the community and handed down by the province. It just baffles me that we, as a Council, cannot even make a local decision to put in a left-turn lane. I hope the results come back positive.”