Ministry of Transportation, OPP studying ways to improve Hwy. 6

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has launched a study to determine the need for snow fencing along Hwy. 6.

The enquiry comes in the wake of the Porto family crash, which claimed the life of five people, including three children, when a mother lost control of her van after hitting a patch of drifting snow just north of Parkside Drive on December 22.

The tragedy prompted Hamilton city council to form a resolution, spearheaded by councillors Margaret McCarthy and Dave Mitchell, to request that the MTO review the highway. Because the highway is a provincial responsibility, the city has no jurisdiction to enact change.

However, the plea was heard. According to Will MacKenzie, media relations for the MTO, the ministry is in the process of hiring a consultant with the right software for the job. The consultant will then plug in Hwy. 6's topography, from Hwy. 5 to the 401, and launch a virtual wind tunnel, to see if there's a need for improvement.

The MTO has not seen a historical pattern of drifting snow problem areas along the highway. "That's why we need to do the study," said MacKenzie. "Maybe we need to do something."

The MTO has spent $29 million over the past 10 years to upgrade Hwy. 6, he noted, including adding the centre turning lane and traffic lights at Millgrove and Carlisle. Work is currently underway to upgrade the stretch from the 403 to Hwy. 5 to a freeway, with a centre median. The MTO is also in talks with the OPP, to determine what role that organization can play, said MacKenzie.

According to MPP Ted McMeekin, who has been in regular contact with the MTO, additional funding for OPP surveillance is one avenue being considered; the speed on Hwy. 6 is a safety concern for many residents and motorists, he noted.

But the OPP isn't sure increased surveillance is the only answer. According to Staff Sergeant Jan Idzenga, Hwy. 6 is at or below provincial accident rates for comparable highways, and is monitored continuously by the OPP. But it's become a busy commuter thoroughfare, and because it doesn't suffer the gridlock issues of other highways in the region, motorists tend to speed on it, said Idzenga.

"It's straight, it's flat, and it has no curves. It's a wide open highway, which invites people to travel at high speeds," he said. Although an increased presence is always important, "until people get the message, it doesn't affect driving behavior," he added, noting that the ideal solution would be a centre median.

"You want controlled access, a centre median, everyone traveling in the same direction. You could really cut down on the accidents through highway design," he said. Hwy. 6 is riddled with side roads and driveways; motorists turning onto the highway are a common cause of swerving traffic and accidents, he noted.

McMeekin is pleased with the attention being paid to Hwy. 6.

"We can't do anything to bring back those lovely people," he said. "But we can set things in place so it doesn't happen again."

In addition to the snow fence study, the MTO has installed signage, reading, "Drive according to road and weather conditions."

McMeekin has had several constituents commenting on the signs, and studies show that they do help to slow motorists down, by making them more aware of road conditions, he said.

Ministry of Transportation, OPP studying ways to improve Hwy. 6

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has launched a study to determine the need for snow fencing along Hwy. 6.

The enquiry comes in the wake of the Porto family crash, which claimed the life of five people, including three children, when a mother lost control of her van after hitting a patch of drifting snow just north of Parkside Drive on December 22.

The tragedy prompted Hamilton city council to form a resolution, spearheaded by councillors Margaret McCarthy and Dave Mitchell, to request that the MTO review the highway. Because the highway is a provincial responsibility, the city has no jurisdiction to enact change.

However, the plea was heard. According to Will MacKenzie, media relations for the MTO, the ministry is in the process of hiring a consultant with the right software for the job. The consultant will then plug in Hwy. 6's topography, from Hwy. 5 to the 401, and launch a virtual wind tunnel, to see if there's a need for improvement.

The MTO has not seen a historical pattern of drifting snow problem areas along the highway. "That's why we need to do the study," said MacKenzie. "Maybe we need to do something."

The MTO has spent $29 million over the past 10 years to upgrade Hwy. 6, he noted, including adding the centre turning lane and traffic lights at Millgrove and Carlisle. Work is currently underway to upgrade the stretch from the 403 to Hwy. 5 to a freeway, with a centre median. The MTO is also in talks with the OPP, to determine what role that organization can play, said MacKenzie.

According to MPP Ted McMeekin, who has been in regular contact with the MTO, additional funding for OPP surveillance is one avenue being considered; the speed on Hwy. 6 is a safety concern for many residents and motorists, he noted.

But the OPP isn't sure increased surveillance is the only answer. According to Staff Sergeant Jan Idzenga, Hwy. 6 is at or below provincial accident rates for comparable highways, and is monitored continuously by the OPP. But it's become a busy commuter thoroughfare, and because it doesn't suffer the gridlock issues of other highways in the region, motorists tend to speed on it, said Idzenga.

"It's straight, it's flat, and it has no curves. It's a wide open highway, which invites people to travel at high speeds," he said. Although an increased presence is always important, "until people get the message, it doesn't affect driving behavior," he added, noting that the ideal solution would be a centre median.

"You want controlled access, a centre median, everyone traveling in the same direction. You could really cut down on the accidents through highway design," he said. Hwy. 6 is riddled with side roads and driveways; motorists turning onto the highway are a common cause of swerving traffic and accidents, he noted.

McMeekin is pleased with the attention being paid to Hwy. 6.

"We can't do anything to bring back those lovely people," he said. "But we can set things in place so it doesn't happen again."

In addition to the snow fence study, the MTO has installed signage, reading, "Drive according to road and weather conditions."

McMeekin has had several constituents commenting on the signs, and studies show that they do help to slow motorists down, by making them more aware of road conditions, he said.

Ministry of Transportation, OPP studying ways to improve Hwy. 6

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has launched a study to determine the need for snow fencing along Hwy. 6.

The enquiry comes in the wake of the Porto family crash, which claimed the life of five people, including three children, when a mother lost control of her van after hitting a patch of drifting snow just north of Parkside Drive on December 22.

The tragedy prompted Hamilton city council to form a resolution, spearheaded by councillors Margaret McCarthy and Dave Mitchell, to request that the MTO review the highway. Because the highway is a provincial responsibility, the city has no jurisdiction to enact change.

However, the plea was heard. According to Will MacKenzie, media relations for the MTO, the ministry is in the process of hiring a consultant with the right software for the job. The consultant will then plug in Hwy. 6's topography, from Hwy. 5 to the 401, and launch a virtual wind tunnel, to see if there's a need for improvement.

The MTO has not seen a historical pattern of drifting snow problem areas along the highway. "That's why we need to do the study," said MacKenzie. "Maybe we need to do something."

The MTO has spent $29 million over the past 10 years to upgrade Hwy. 6, he noted, including adding the centre turning lane and traffic lights at Millgrove and Carlisle. Work is currently underway to upgrade the stretch from the 403 to Hwy. 5 to a freeway, with a centre median. The MTO is also in talks with the OPP, to determine what role that organization can play, said MacKenzie.

According to MPP Ted McMeekin, who has been in regular contact with the MTO, additional funding for OPP surveillance is one avenue being considered; the speed on Hwy. 6 is a safety concern for many residents and motorists, he noted.

But the OPP isn't sure increased surveillance is the only answer. According to Staff Sergeant Jan Idzenga, Hwy. 6 is at or below provincial accident rates for comparable highways, and is monitored continuously by the OPP. But it's become a busy commuter thoroughfare, and because it doesn't suffer the gridlock issues of other highways in the region, motorists tend to speed on it, said Idzenga.

"It's straight, it's flat, and it has no curves. It's a wide open highway, which invites people to travel at high speeds," he said. Although an increased presence is always important, "until people get the message, it doesn't affect driving behavior," he added, noting that the ideal solution would be a centre median.

"You want controlled access, a centre median, everyone traveling in the same direction. You could really cut down on the accidents through highway design," he said. Hwy. 6 is riddled with side roads and driveways; motorists turning onto the highway are a common cause of swerving traffic and accidents, he noted.

McMeekin is pleased with the attention being paid to Hwy. 6.

"We can't do anything to bring back those lovely people," he said. "But we can set things in place so it doesn't happen again."

In addition to the snow fence study, the MTO has installed signage, reading, "Drive according to road and weather conditions."

McMeekin has had several constituents commenting on the signs, and studies show that they do help to slow motorists down, by making them more aware of road conditions, he said.