The Province holds the power when it comes to connecting links

At Saugeen Shores lengthy Council meeting on Tuesday, October 11th, the last before the Municipal election, Mark Paoli, Director, Development Services brought forward a report for an Intersection Control Evaluation study for Hwy. 21 at McNabb Street and the intersection at Goderich St. and Concession 6 (CAW Rd. 25).

The initiatives were approved in the 2022 Business Plan in anticipation of funding from the Connecting links program.  The grant applications however were not successful and, therefore, approval for a study was requested by Paoli through the Development Charges funds.

The Town’s Transportation Master Plan (the Plan) included an analysis and modelling that included demand based on planned future growth and traffic counts.

A field traffic count analysis done in 2019 under provincial regulations apparently did not meet the Provincial warrant levels for signal lights to be installed at the intersection.  According to the Province, the traffic thresh-hold must meet 120 per cent in order to have lights installed and the warrant analysis of 2019 was in the 70 per cent range.

The Plan did identify however, a need to improve the intersection and included a recommendation, carried forward in the 2022 Business Plan, to do a justification report and warrant analysis (more specifically referred to as a Traffic Control Evaluation). A Traffic Control Evaluation reviews alternatives and provides the recommendations on how to design the intersection to meet the traffic demand. The 2022 Business Plan and Budget approved $50,000 for this project, with $5,000 from Taxation and $45,000 from the Connecting Links grant programme which was not approved.  Therefore, the request was  made for $45,000 to be transferred for the project from the Development Charges Reserve.

According to Paoli, the new analysis would not be a complete re-do of field traffic counts but would look at properties and how they could be incorporated into a traffic circle, collision data, updating the modelling and looking at preliminary designs.  “In any event, this is not the right time of year to do traffic counts.”

Councillor Cheryl Grace asked if there was any option as the Province has the “… bottom line power to say you can’t have a signalized intersection there.”  Paoli agreed saying that a further analysis would unlikely trigger a higher warrant.  “The warrant would be based on future forecasted development.  The long-range picture is not expected to change a great deal.”

“My concern with a round-about in that location is pedestrian access,” added Grace. “The Rail Trail is right there on the west side and is frequently used along with kids with bikes trying to cross to go to school.  Also, would this study include public consultation?”

Paoli said that normally it would not as it was technical study but a public consultation could be held.

Mayor Luke Charbonneau said that funds had been approved for the round-about study but he said that the second round-about was another matter.  “i have difficult with this because we are talking about Hwy. 21 and the County Rd. but Saugeen Shores is going to have to pony-up all the money.  The Connecting Links program was going to provide funding but for some reason the Town is now going to be the full funder for an intersection that doesn’t belong to us in any way.  i’m not happy about using our money to fund this but the Connecting Links program has re-opened again up to November 14th and we can re-apply.  At the minimum, we should go to the County and ask them to help fund the project.”

Both the Deputy Mayor Don Matheson and Vice-deputy Mayor Mike Myatt agreed with the mayor to re-apply for funding and to approach the County.

Deputy Mayor asked how many lanes a round-about.  “With a round-about there, that’s where the road closed signs are erected during the winter weather.  Also, snow removal by the County would be impacted.  In addition, traffic counts are usually done at the wrong time of year.”

A friendly amendment was made to the recommendation that Council approve the use of up to $45,000 from the Development Charges Reserve to fund a round-about study for the McNabb Street at Railway Street Intersection.