By Catherine O’Hara
There’s a consensus among Mill Street North residents: traffic-calming measures are needed to address the issue of high traffic volumes and speed. This was made more evident to a Waterdown homeowner after a suspected single-vehicle crash downed a stop sign adjacent to Mary Hopkins School last week.
According to Jack Krist, the collision occurred around 6 p.m. on Nov. 25, just as he and his family were preparing to eat dinner and watch the Grey Cup football match.
“It sounded like something had hit our house and then dropped something metal,” said the homeowner, who went outside but didn’t notice anything until the following morning, when he walked his children to the Mill Street North elementary school. “There it was, a stop sign, cracked off at the base, and skid marks over the sidewalk.”
Within hours of being notified of the downed sign, City of Hamilton public works crews attended the scene to evaluate the damage and remedy the situation. A new post, at the cost of $150, was installed.
The Nov. 25 incident, said Krist, “is further proof that Mill Street is in need of traffic-calming measures.”
This is something members of the Mill Street Heritage Committee have been working on for several months. The group spearheaded a campaign to spur the city to implement traffic-calming measures between Dundas Street East and Parkside Drive, a road that residents claim is often used by motorists to bypass congestion on Waterdown’s thoroughfares.
Recently, they canvassed the area, including Mill Street North and its side streets, and circulated petitions to more than 90 households to garner support for action.
“The response has been tremendous,” said resident Andy MacLaren, adding that homeowners are “fed up” with the traffic woes.
The traffic volume, noted MacLaren is high. More than 10,800 vehicles were recorded by a speed trailer travelling south over the course of one week in May.
So far, the petition has garnered the support of 94 residents in favour of limited truck traffic – the most of all the proposals. A petition to add stop signs at Church and John streets was signed by 90 and 85 individuals, respectively.
More than 80 residents supported reducing the speed limit to 40 km/h, while the idea of installing speed humps received the least support with 64 signatures.
“Although none of these traffic-calming measures may be perfect, the one thing that did come out of this petition campaign is the vast majority believe that traffic on Mill Street North is a serious problem and something needs to be done now,” said MacLaren.
And after seeing the damaged stop sign last Monday morning, he, too, is calling on the city to act now before it’s too late.
“Stop signs and damage to cars can always be repaired, but the damage done from a senseless loss of life is permanent,” said Krist.
The petitions, which will be presented to Ward 15 councillor Judi Partridge, should be completed this week. MacLaren is hopeful the community’s voice will be heard and it will encourage staff to implement measures to ease their concerns.
Aware of the group’s concerns, Partridge suggested the group of local residents distribute a time-sensitive survey that outlined potential traffic-calming measures, their effectiveness and disadvantage.
“Everybody has to have input with what they want,” said Partridge.
But MacLaren, who received the city’s survey the evening before the group was set to canvass the area, believed that this official document should originate from the city via a controlled distribution since all affected homes are served by post office boxes.
The decision to implement traffic-calming measures along Mill Street will be based on facts and figures. “If it’s warranted, absolutely, it will be looked at,” said Partridge.