LETTERS: Open letter to Northeast Town council concerns new road alignments

Dangerous changes will lead to many accidents

EDITORS NOTE: The following is an open letter to the mayor and council of the Northeast Town and has been reprinted here at the author’s request.

Dear Mayor MacNiven and council members:

This letter concerns the recent changes made to two corners of Bidwell Road—Skippen’s Corner and the corner at HarCor greenhouses. The new alignment of these two corners is really dangerous. Didn’t the engineer consider what will happen at these corners in the winter? In freezing rain? In a snow storm? I have driven through these corners hundreds of times over the last 30 years, and I can tell you that what you have done really scares me.

Prior to the work, there was nothing wrong with the layout of these corners—what was wrong was the way they were signed, which left it unclear as to who had the right of way in some directions. This could easily have been solved with two stop signs on the merging roads and another sign to indicate that the traffic on the Bidwell has the right of way.

Unfortunately, the new alignment now creates a whole bunch of much more serious problems. Here’s why:

1) Previously, if someone went into the curve too fast and found they weren’t going to make the corner, they had the option of keeping their wheels straight and going straight on through the intersection. I have seen a lot of people over the years go in the ditch from taking the Bidwell corners too fast, especially at the Scotch Line corner (where I live) where there is no option to go straight. Also, there are times when even those of us who know the curves find out they are more slippery than expected, and that’s when it is essential to be able to keep going straight rather than wipe out in the corner.

2) When coming up to Bidwell on the side roads, drivers stopping at the new stop signs now have to slow down and stop in a curve rather than facing straight ahead. The angle of the new road is very tricky to stop in. People are already finding it tricky now when it’s loose gravel, so imagine what it’s going to be like when it’s slippery, or when it’s snowing hard and you can’t see exactly where the edge of the road is. Before, when the road was straight, it was pretty easy to guess where the edge would be. Now, this curve is going to be a place to spin out and roll down into a new ditch.

3) The new road at the HarCor corner approaches Bidwell right in the middle of the curve, and there is not enough sight line to see if there is a car coming from the south. Since every car entering Bidwell at this point should be starting up from a full stop, it means a slow car will be entering Bidwell not knowing if someone is coming fast around the corner. This is really scary! Picture someone trying to enter Bidwell, starting up when the road is a little slippery, and someone comes zooming into the curve. I already feel like I’m playing roulette at this corner. I just hope on an icy day in November it won’t be deadly for someone. I’ve gotten in the habit of checking Bidwell before reaching the stop sign because that is the only place where there is a decent sight line.

4) Someone seems to think that to make the corner safe you can just lower the speed limit down to 50 km/h. Just because there is a sign to that effect does not mean anyone will obey. I have not seen anyone changing their driving habits at these corners—most people I see are not even stopping at the stop signs.

5) In the time since I started this letter, a new problem has shown up. Twice now I have found a car stopped right in the road on Bidwell, right middle of the curve, while they try to figure out which road they need to take. I came up on these cars completely blind! Previously, people unfamiliar with the area could pull off into the straight road and look at the road name, then turn back out onto the Bidwell if necessary. Now, people are hesitating to turn into these confusing corners.

Given that these corners were only finished a couple weeks ago, I have only seen one car in the ditch so far. I hate to think how many more will end up there this summer, and I can only pray that you will be very diligent about making sure these corners are very well sanded come winter.

Thank you for listening to my opinions on this matter. Perhaps my neighbours feel differently—who knows? 

Sincerely,

Judith Jones

Bidwell