Town of Smiths Falls director of Public Works Troy Dunlop is recommending the Town proceed with a traffic calming review on Harold St.
Dunlop said in May 2016, his department was approached by concerned residents about speeding vehicles along the street. After an initial round of consultations with local residents, a two-week long traffic survey was initiated to collect statistics.
The survey revealed that around 4,200 vehicles a day were travelling Harold St. and that the 85th percentile speed was 52.6 km/hr.
The survey also revealed that 24 per cent of the vehicles surveyed were speeding in excess of the 50 km/hr speed limit.
Dunlop told Lake 88 that the 85th percentile is a very key statistic in the industry for deciding whether a street needs to be reviewed or whether traffic calming modifications are required.
“That statistic is telling us that the majority of the normal traffic, the normal drivers, are feeling that the road environment allows them to drive at a higher speed,” explained Dunlop. “It tells us that we need to look at that corridor if we want to implement any changes that will affect driver behaviour, be it signage, changes in the road width, striping on the road or vertical measures like speed bumps.”
“It’s a trigger of concerns that indicates that perhaps you might be moving outside of an area of education to actually implementing physical measures,” he added.
Dunlop said that community concerns about speeding on Harold St. go back several years. Dunlop, who joined the town’s Public Works department earlier this year, said that Smiths Falls traditionally hasn’t looked at speeding issues by way of a traffic calming policy, and that he wanted to look at things differently.
“There are guidelines in Canada for how you can evaluate streets for traffic calming measures such as signage, speed bumps and related measures,” explained Dunlop, adding that they are all predicated on the 85th percentile statistic.
Coun. Lorraine Allen thanked Dunlop for taking on this project, adding that the Town “has heard a lot from residents” about the speeding problem along Harold St.
Coun. Dawn Quinn asked if there was anything that could be done in the interim while the study was conducted, but Dunlop replied that there were drawbacks to acting in haste. He pointed to when speed bumps were installed last year, and then shortly thereafter removed, indicating that it “maybe wasn’t the best action” to have had them installed in the first place.
“The community feels we should make sure we get it right,” said Dunlop.
Dunlop said that he had involved the town’s Traffic Advisory Committee, and that through the committee, the Smiths Falls police had also provided input.
“Deputy Chief Mark MacGillivray understands the importance of the 85th percentile statistic,” said Dunlop.
If approved, it’s expected that the review will be conducted over the fall and winter with the recommended changes presented to council in early 2017.