By Dianne Cornish, REVIEW STAFF
The new multi-lane roundabout at Peters Corners is causing some angst amongst local motorists, but an engineer working on the $6.3-million project did his best to soothe concerns at Monday night’s Public Education Centre hosted by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) at Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Flamborough.
The meeting, attended by about 60 people, was designed to provide information to motorists to help them negotiate the roundabout at the convergence of Highways 5 and 8 and Hamilton Road 52. After listening to Philip Weber of Ourston Roundabout Engineering in Richmond Hill explain how best to manoeuvre through the traffic circle, one man observed that people living in the area will likely catch on quickly about how to use the roundabout, “but not others from outside the area,” he cautioned. “That’s where there’s going to be problems.”
Some stated concerns about the roundabout causing confusion and possibly resulting in accidents, while others appeared content with the new configuration. Astrid Poei, a communications coordinator with the MTO, said the roundabout was chosen as the best option to replace what many recognized as a dangerous intersection. She said roundabouts “force people to slow down” and also have the advantage of promoting continual traffic movement rather than leading to lineups of cars stopped at signalized intersection.
Because traffic is moving at a slower rate, any collisions that do occur are much less severe, Poei added. An ongoing operational review on the safety performance of the roundabout will be conducted by the MTO as soon as construction of the reconfigured intersection is complete, most likely by the end of September.
An employee of Trimac Trucking, which is located at Peters Corners, suggested that signs be erected to encourage motorists to stay in one lane while in the roundabout and signal their turns. Weber was receptive to the idea, saying, “That’s not a bad suggestion.” He said it’s important for motorists not to change lanes once they enter the roundabout and also yield to trucks, which will oftentimes require both lanes to manoeuvre.
Millgrove area resident Tony Onufer, however, isn’t convinced that the roundabout is the best option for the busy intersection. “A roundabout at Highway 5 and Highway 8 is not a good choice,” he told Weber. “Roundabouts are not practical for heavy commercial traffic,” he contended, adding that he would have preferred a new stoplight at the intersection. “(It would) make more sense and a safer road.”
Poei said she has visited all the trucking companies in the area and informed them of the change and has also contacted the Ontario Trucking Association, which is posting information about new roundabouts in its newsletter for OTA members.
Weber advised those using the Peters Corners roundabout to always travel counterclockwise, to stay in the right lane for right turns and straight through traffic and in the left lane for left turns and through traffic. He said signs erected more than 100 metres from all entry points will help guide motorists with directional arrows and highway symbols. “They will provide motorists with enough lead time and enough reaction time,” Poei noted.
If motorists encounter emergency vehicles before entering the roundabout, they should slow down and move over, but if they are already in the roundabout, they should proceed through the intersection and move over after exiting the circle, Weber said.
The Peters Corner’s circle is the third provincial roundabout in Ontario; Picton and Mattawa also have one, although they are both single lanes. But the popularity of traffic circles is increasing and three more will be added this fall in the Collingwood area, as well as one in Welland in late 2012.
Several municipalities, including Hamilton, have roundabouts, with two of the best-known local examples being in Ancaster.
For more information, visit the MTO’s Roundabout Website at www.ontario.ca/roundabout.
with files from the Hamilton Spectator
Quick tips on negotiating a roundabout
• Slow down as you approach the roundabout
• Choose the correct entry lane
• Watch for pedestrians crossing the roadway when approaching or exiting a roundabout
• Traffic in the roundabout has the right-of-way
• Give large vehicles extra space to manoeuvre
• Avoid passing other vehicles in the roundabout
• Signal your exit
Source: MTO pamphlet, How to use Roundabouts