OPINION: Round we go

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The idea that council believes installing a roundabout at the intersection of Queen’s Line and Merlin Road is the safest way to improve that intersection is, well, scary.

Council recently decided 13 to 3 to opt for that over turning lanes and/or traffic lights.

We’ll file this under “what were they thinking?”

Perhaps councillors were looking at an inexpensive option, as installing traffic lights at the intersection would cost more coin (see our story on page 10), compared to the $2.1-million roundabout.

There are certainly hazards at this busy West Kent intersection. Impatient drivers (of which we have no shortage in Chatham-Kent) will move onto the paved shoulder and pass left-turning vehicles, often without seeing what may also be turning left in the opposite direction. One of the few corners on Queen’s Line between Chatham and Tilbury is just west of the intersection, limiting sight lines somewhat.

This is a secondary highway with a 90-km/h speed limit. Council expects people to just immediately adapt and slow down to get into and out of the roundabout. Don’t be surprised to see vehicles head right over it, especially in times of limited visibility.

Furthermore, have councillors observed traffic in either of Chatham’s two roundabouts – at Tweedsmuir Avenue and Keil Drive, and at Dale Drive and Keil Trail North? Spend a few minutes at either spot and watch how many drivers are unsure of the rules on who has right of way. And these are ones within an urban setting with feeding roads sporting 50 km/h speed limits.

We wonder if all of the 13 councillors who opted for this form of highway roulette know the rules of use for roundabouts themselves.

Queen’s Line is a busy, fast-moving highway that has its share of transports utilizing it. A closure on Highway 401, and that road becomes extremely busy; choked with transports in at least one direction.

Add in agricultural vehicle traffic from Merlin Road – something council and administration said will be taken into account – and this is not your typical urban roundabout.

Installing left-turn lanes on Queen’s Line would be a smart start, followed by traffic signals if accidents continued at a high rate, would be the smarter move in our books.

 

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