Friday, January 11, 2008

from 50 to 40 in a flash?

Craig Campbell and the Dundas Star continue to provide excellent follow-up reportage on local traffic issues.

Governor's Road awaits safety improvements
Group calls for further safety improvements
Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News, Published on Jan 11, 2008

Long discussed improvements to Governor's Road traffic control should be on their way, as city staff prepare to install a new reduced speed zone along a three school stretch of the road. City of Hamilton traffic technologist Sue Russell couldn't say when the system would be operational, as there may be some bugs to work out.

"It's new equipment and a new program. There could be some unforeseen problems, as with any new product," Ms. Russell said. "I don't want to make any promises I can't keep."

The reduced speed school zone was approved by city council in April 2007. One of eight such school zones across the city, the Governor's Road zone will stretch from Moss Boulevard to 75 metres east of Huntingwood.

Flashing lights will warn drivers the regular 50 km/h speed drops to 40 km/h during morning, mid-day and afternoon rush hours.

The flashing light speed zone will be in effect for just over five hours each day, between 7:50 a.m. and 4 p.m. The part-time school zone was anticipated to be in place by September 2007, when the new Sir William Osler School was scheduled to open. Delays in the school's completion coincided with an apparent delay in receiving equipment from a supplier.

Osler School opened in November 2007 without the school speed zone in place. Ms. Russell said this week an expected start date for the new system is not set. She said staff will need training before the equipment is installed.

The idea of a school speed zone, along with a roundabout on Governor's Road, was raised while former councillor Art Samson represented Dundas. Mr. Samson wanted to see safety improvements made to the less than one kilometre stretch of road that includes St. Bernadette Catholic Elementary School, Highland Secondary School, and Sir William Osler Elementary.

Start times for the schools range from 8:15 a.m. at Highland, to 9 a.m. at St. Bernadette to 9:10 a.m. at Osler.

When the reduced speed zone is operational, it is planned to be in use from 7:50 a.m. to 9:10 a.m., then from 10:59 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., and finally from 2:45 to 4 p.m.

The new elementary school's morning bell time coincides exactly with the end of the morning reduced speed, at which time it will return to 50 km/h from 40 km/h.

Ron Gallo of the city's traffic department said a consultant will be hired to conduct an environmental assessment of a roundabout in area of Governor's Road and Davidson Boulevard.

Mr. Gallo said the budget is in place and he hopes the assessment will be completed in 2008, allowing the design to be done in the first quarter of 2009 and construction by the end of next year.

"That's a best case scenario for me," Mr. Gallo said, noting he'd been involved in discussions about a Governor's Road roundabout for more than two years, and would like to see it done.

Transportation for Liveable Communities sent an e-mail this week to all members of Hamilton's city council, supporting a new reduced speed zone and a roundabout at Davidson Boulevard, along with several other recommendations.

The local pedestrian, cyclist and transit interest group also called for a comprehensive traffic audit of Governor's Road --with results released to the public -- additional school crossing guards, and improved public transit service on Governor's Road. Among the changes supported by TLC are new traffic calming measures - in particular bicycle lanes that were proposed in the city's May 2007 Cycling Network Strategy.

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