Sault Ste. Marie's first roundabouts are being proposed near the Sault Star property as one way to alleviate traffic congestion at the Great Northern Road and Second Line intersection.
Stephen Keen from Burlington-based CIMA Canada Inc. and Carl Rumiel from the city's public works and engineering service say a roundabout at Old Garden River Road and Second Line would improve the intersection's geometry for left-turning vehicles, eliminating the need to turn at an awkward angle.
With a roundabout, traffic lights could be removed at that intersection.
Ontario's Ministry of Transportation defines a roundabout as a circular intersection where two or more roads meet.
"Traffic circulates through them counter-clockwise, to the right of a centre island. All entering vehicles must yield to traffic already in the roundabout," says the government's website.
Drivers are advised to slow down when they enter a roundabout and to use the correct lane for their intended destination.
Stopping is not permitted, except to avoid a collision.
Double the fun?
Another proposal from Keen and Rumiel would create a double roundabout by treating the entrance to WalMart off Second Line the same way.
The engineers caution, however, that roundabouts are costly because of the expense involved in acquiring property and road reconstruction.
The project could significantly impact properties immediately northwest and southeast of the proposed roundabouts, including the Sault Star, Velorution and Michaels Arts and Crafts.
Roundabouts are common in southern Ontario, with more than 100 built in recent years, both in new residential neighbourhood and on secondary highways.
Roundabouts not really a Northern thing
In northern Ontario, they are less common.
Significant roundabouts in the north are at Gormanville Road, Mckeown Avenue and College Drive in North Bay; and at Highways 17 and 533 at Mattawa.
The intersection near the Sault Star was a subject of special scrutiny at a city-organized open house last night on Great Northern Road traffic issues, with five of 13 potential solutions focussed on the oddly skewed juncture.
Also under consideration are extensions to Sackville Road, Industrial Park Crescent and Drive-In Road, as well a optimizing traffic signals to make left turns easier at Great Northern and Second Line.
Here's a full list of the 13 possibilities:
- #1 - Sackville Road north extension to Third Line
- #2 - Sackville Road north and east extension to Industrial Park Crescent
- #3 - Westerly extension of Industrial Park Crescent to Sackville Road
- #4 - Southerly extension of Industrial Park Crescent to Second Line
- #5 - Relocation of traffic signal on Great Northern to Industrial Park, with new access road
- #6 - New signal at existing WalMart access
- #7 - Westerly extension of Drive-In Road to Sackville Road
- #8 - Double left-turn onto Great Northern Road at Second Line
- #9 - Realignment of Old Garden River Road to remove skew
- #10 - Traffic signal optimization
- #11 - Extension of WalMart entrance southerly to Willow Avenue
- #12 - Single roundabout at Old Garden River Road and Second Line
- #13 - Double roundabout at Old Garden River Road and Second Line
In materials available at last night's meeting, Keen and Rumiel describe the problem at Great Northern and Second Line:
"A review of traffic conditions in the study area revealed poor traffic conditions focused at the Second Line/Great Northern Road intersection. This is expected to worsen in the future as more development occurs in the area."
"The secondary road network in the study area is discontinuous, causing most traffic to pass through the Second Line/Great Northern Road intersection."
"The intersection of Old Garden River Road/Second Line presents difficulty for left-turning traffic due to the skew of the intersection."
"In order to improve traffic operations in the study area, a secondary road network to alleviate the primary network is needed."
Sault's worst intersection
Speaking to SooToday, Keen described the Great Northern/ Second Line intersection as "probably the worst in the Sault."
"They have to come through that intersection whether they're heading up north on the Trans Canada, or coming into the local shopping at WalMart and all the commercial areas along Great Northern."
"There's not a secondary road network available to get into those commercial areas. Everyone has to come through that intersection."
Old Garden River Road also figured prominently in four possibilities for new east-west bicycle routes outlined last night by Keen and Rumiel:
- Second Line from Sackville Road to Old Garden River Road
- Northern Avenue from North Street to Pine Street
- Industrial Park Crescent to Old Garden River Road
- Terrance Avenue from Great Northern to Old Garden River Road/ Hub Trail
Keen and Rumiel will review public input received at last night's session, and will then present their final recommendations to City Council.
Keen indicates the 13 initial possibilities will probably be reduced to something like three recommendations.
Citizen comments will still be received until Jan. 4.