City looks to put brakes on traffic

Staff recommendations from pilot project on traffic-calming measures being prepared for council

It has been more than two years in the making, but Ward 7 councillor John Brassard is hopeful a traffic-calming policy is coming to the streets of Barrie, perhaps as early as mid-September.
Brassard says that one of the complaints most often voiced to him by residents relates to vehicles speeding along residential streets. He has been hearing about it since the last election.
When he first approached staff about traffic-calming measures, he says there was little enthusiasm for them without a study to first address their impact. And, he says, concern was also expressed about how the measures, such as speed bumps, would impact snow removal.

Ward 7 councillor John Brassard

It was determined the best way to go about it was to implement a traffic-calming pilot project. On March 5, 2007, Brassard introduced a motion “that basically gave city staff the go ahead to initiate a pilot project.”
Measures were implemented in wards 2, 9 and 10, and included the portable speed bump currently on Eccles Street. Staff is now ready to bring forward a recommendation based on the project’s findings, says Brassard.
Staff considered a range of measures, including lane realignments, planting flowerpots in the middle of roads to slow vehicles, and speed bumps. While he can’t say what council will do with staff’s recommendations, Brassard is hopeful traffic-calming measures will be approved.
They work, he says.
“What staff found is that (the measures on Eccles) reduced speeding by up to 30 per cent. There was really a measurable difference.”
Brassard likes portable speed bumps for city roads as they can be removed during winter, when snow is a natural speed inhibitor, and replaced in the spring. And at about $3,000 a bump, they are affordable.
Portable signs indicating speed have also proven an effective measure to calm traffic, and can likewise be moved about the city.
“We’re now starting to get to the point when the report is starting to come to council … around mid-September. I wouldn’t have put this forward if I didn’t think it was a real issue for people.”
On Monday, general committee approved a recommendation for staff to review possible traffic-calming measures on Girdwood Drive, as well as the south intersection of Carley Crescent and Esther Drive, measures that could include stop signs.
Brassard doesn’t see stop signs as effective traffic-calming measures.
“They just become decorations after awhile … most people just use them as a decoration, they pull up and then they are gone again.”
Another measure that the councillor says might be worthwhile to consider would be the use of roundabouts in new subdivisions. Whichever measures are discussed, it’s time for them to be introduced to the streets of Barrie, says Brassard.
“I hope council is serious about doing something about it because it is a real issue in the city.”

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