Left-turn lanes OK’d for Church/ Arthur street in­ter­sec­tion

Wool­wich backs plan that would elim­i­nate some on-street park­ing when re­gion re­builds the road­way

The Woolwich Observer - - FRONT PAGE - STEVE KANNON

LEFT-TURN LANES SHOULD BE added into the mix when the Re­gion of Water­loo re­con­structs the in­ter­sec­tion of Arthur and Church streets, Wool­wich coun­cil­lors de­cided this week. They en­dorsed a plan that would add new lanes on both the east and west side of Church Street, cor­re­spond­ing to ex­ist­ing turn­ing lanes on Arthur, when the work is car­ried out in 2020.

The re­align­ment would elim­i­nate the 11 ex­ist­ing park­ing spa­ces on the north and south sides of Church Street West.

It’s that change that was op­posed by both the Elmira Busi­ness Im­prove­ment Area (BIA) and, specif­i­cally, by some of the mer­chants at the cor­ner who de­pend on the on-street park­ing op­tions.

“Park­ing is a re­ally big deal,” said Dr. Ja­son McDon­ald, who op­er­ates Elmira Chi­ro­prac­tic at 15 Church St. W.

Ad­dress­ing coun­cil­lors at Tues­day night’s meet­ing, he called on them to choose a do-noth­ing op­tion, ar­gu­ing the in­ter­sec­tion is func­tional as it stands.

“The in­ter­sec­tion works – it’s not great, but it does,” he said, not­ing on-street park­ing is “es­sen­tial” for his pa­tients, many with mo­bil­ity prob­lems, to ac­cess his prac­tice.

Like many of his neigh­bours, the build­ing he’s in doesn’t have any off-street park­ing of its own.

While sym­pa­thetic, Coun. Pa­trick Mer­li­han,

point­ing to the two years of dis­cus­sions and pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions, said the re­gion’s plans to re­con­struct the in­ter­sec­tion – and foot the bill – is too good to miss. It could be decades be­fore the in­ter­sec­tion is re­con­structed again.

“This is an op­por­tu­nity. It was a town­ship ask in this case to im­prove the in­ter­sec­tion for the res­i­dents,” said Mer­li­han, not­ing pub­lic in­put prompted Wool­wich to re­quest turn­ing lanes that weren’t part of the re­gion’s orig­i­nal plans. “The donoth­ing ap­proach is not an ap­proach that works for res­i­dents.”

Fur­ther­more, the Ward 1 coun­cil­lor con­tin­ued, growth will only make traf­fic worse, so sooner or later the work will have to be done.

As some­thing of a com­pro­mise, Coun. Mur­ray Martin sug­gested the town­ship look at al­low­ing on-street park­ing out­side of prime com­muter hours, say from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Un­con­vinced, how­ever, Mayor Sandy Shantz sug­gested keep­ing the in­ter­sec­tion as is, but ad­just­ing the traf­fic sig­nals to al­low ve­hi­cles to ad­vance in just one di­rec­tion at a time rather than al­ter­nat­ing east-west then north-south, a process known as split phas­ing.

Not­ing that the re­gion op­posed that plan, town­ship en­gi­neer­ing staff also balked at the idea due to the po­ten­tial to make traf­fic worse, es­pe­cially as growth con­tin­ues.

“Split phas­ing would slow the whole in­ter­sec­tion down,” said Ryan Tucker, a new en­gi­neer­ing project su­per­vi­sor.

“Re­gard­ing the al­ter­ation of the Church Street sig­nals to pro­vide an ad­vance green with­out chang­ing the lay­out of the in­ter­sec­tion, the is­sue is that adding more time to one di­rec­tion can only be done at the ex­pense of the other di­rec­tion (i.e. if the east­bound di­rec­tion is ad­vanced, west­bound op­er­a­tions will suf­fer, and vice-versa),” Tucker noted in a writ­ten re­port. “In some cases where traf­fic vol­ume is much higher in one di­rec­tion than the other, this ap­proach can be used suc­cess­fully. How­ever, at this in­ter­sec­tion fore­cast traf­fic vol­ume is the same in both the east­bound and west­bound direc­tions, so there is no clear choice about which di­rec­tion to pri­or­i­tize. The fact that queues will block streets/ laneways on both sides of the in­ter­sec­tion, fur­ther com­pli­cates the de­ci­sion of which di­rec­tion to pri­or­i­tize.”

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