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Traffic counts may not be helpful in setting speed limits in Puslinch Township

by Mike Robinson

ABERFOYLE - While the results surprised council, it is uncertain how much the information gathered from local traffic counts will actually help in determining speed limits in Puslinch.

In some cases, it could open up an entirely different can of worms.

Road superintendent Don Creed reported to council on Jan 4 the 24-hour road counts for four roads that were done on Nov. 15:

- Concession 7, North of Calfass, 458 vehicles; south of Calfass, 814 vehicles;

- Watson Road - South of the railway tracks, 234 vehicles;

- Hume Road, 385 vehicles; and,

- Roszell Road, North of Concession 4, 1,198 vehicles.

On the matter of lowering speed limits and traffic counts, Creed said when he saw the item on the agenda, he was not sure what direction he wants to take so the reports were sent to council.

“I’m not sure where council wants to head with this,” he said.

Creed said roads were checked, such as Concession Road 7, under the minimum maintenance standards, and it would be considered a Class 5 road. Currently it is treated as a Class 4 road, which has higher maintenance standards.

“It is already exceeding maintenance standards - even with the 80km/h speed limit in place,” he said

Unfortunately for that section of Concession 7, the technology does not exist to get a proper speed count, Creed said.

“All we could get is a volume count.”

While the volume count is getting close with 814 vehicles, Creed said the numbers would need to exceed 1,000 vehicles in a 24-hour period to push it into a Class 3 roadway.

“We’re still ahead of the game, even though it is posted at 80km/h.”

He said of Roszell Road, which exceeded 1,100 vehicles, “because it is 60km/h, it falls into the Class 4 category.”

Creed said if council wants to reduce speed limits “by all means, we can do that.”

But, he said if that is the case, council would need to take a hard look into the road classifications.

Creed explained lowering the speed limit would likely lower the road maintenance standards to a Class 5 road from Class 4.

Councillor Ken Roth said he struggles with the traffic count numbers. In the Concession 7 study, Roth did not believe the numbers accurately reflect the traffic volume.

Roth said the numbers also indicated there was more traffic on Calfass Road than on Watson Road.

He also did not believe Hume Road had more traffic than Watson Road either.

“I don’t think this traffic count is valid at all,” he said.

Creed said he could not really comment on the Concession 7 [Calfass Road] data.

He said in some cases, councillors need to consider the location of where the traffic counts were taken. He explained the Watson Road count was taken specifically close to the railway tracks near Arkell Road.

He suggested if the count was done south of Maltby Road “We would have had a whole different count.”

Roth said, “I doubt there are that many cars in an entire week ... maybe there’s a lot going on when I’m sleeping.”

As for the 300 vehicle difference in northbound and southbound vehicles on Concession 7, Roth said the vehicles would have to go down Calfass.

“There’s no other road they can possibly go on, unless they turned around and headed south again.” He again reiterated that he does not favour lowering the speed limit.

Councillor Wayne Stokley was also surprised with the numbers from the road counts - especially with respect to Roszell Road.

“I, too, was surprised with the Concession 7 results.”

However Stokley would still like to see the speed limit reduced along Concession 7 until council has a handle on how it plans to upgrade that road. He believes the road would be safer by reducing the speed.

Fielding agreed with Roth in questioning the traffic counts on Concession 7. Yet, as someone who drives the road, Fielding is uncertain about lowering the speed limit.

While suggesting she does not drive at 80km/h on that stretch, “I don’t know if you can legislate common sense. I do think 80km/h is excessive for that road and I would be in favour of lowering the speed limit.”

Lever considered the traffic counts “a real eye-opener.”

To him, the big surprise was the difference in the counts between the traffic on Hume Road and Watson.

“I would have expected the volume on Watson to be much higher.” He said one of the questions is “where are these vehicles going? I’m not certain that lowering the speed limit down to 60km/h is going to make it safer.  People are not going to drive any different there, unless they think they are going to get caught. That’s the bottom line.”

Lever added, “If I thought it would really help, I would support it.”

However he is concerned that altering speed limits could potentially lower the maintenance categories for the roads.

At the same time, he said, “I think we are a long way away from a major rehabilitation of that road.”

While he would like to keep a close eye on the situation, Lever said, “I’m not convinced that lowering the speed limit will actually help the situation.”

He is even more concerned if the change is made on an interim basis.

“That would cause more confusion than not doing anything at this point,” Lever said.

He asked if there was any other approach council could take.

Creed said if there are too many signs, “They get lost.”

But, he agreed to see if some signs could be used.

Stokley remained concerned because he believes the road is a bus route and the sight lines are bad.

He said the main use of the road occurs  when buses are there.

“People are going to work and kids are going to school.”

Fielding added that on a positive note, residents there have said to her truck traffic seems to have subdued a lot and signs already installed seem to work.

“Before some of the trucks seemed to just fly down the road. In this case, the signs worked.”

January 13, 2012

 
 

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