MTO makes recommendations for controversial Mindemoya town centre intersection

Some members of Central Manitoulin council are not happy with the ministry’s recommendations for this Mindemoya intersection.

Central councillors unhappy with the results

MINDEMOYA – While recommendations made by the Ministry of Transportation did not include several proposals the municipality of Central Manitoulin made in regards to the traffic safety concerns with the Highway 551 and Highway 542 intersection in downtown Mindemoya, a suggestion made by a local resident certainly has the support to be considered, Central Manitoulin Mayor Richard Stephens.

“It certainly makes sense,” stated Mayor Stephens of the idea raised by a reader of The Manitoulin Expositor to rumble strips being established at each of the corner stops at the intersection.

Colleen Honderich, of Kitchener, Ontario in a letter to the editor published in last week’s Expositor wrote in part, “every summer I spend three weeks near Mindemoya and I know that intersection can be dangerous. On many country roads in Ontario, as you approach a stop sign, your tires hit a section of pavement that is grated, and it makes a loud noise in your car. It lets you know that you’re coming to a stop sign. It is called a rumble strip. I do know it works.”

“I know when you travel a lot of major highways or if you go over on the other lane, this rumble makes a loud sound and you know you have gone over. It’s a good point. I certainly commend this person for making this comment. It is a novel idea and one that should be looked into and considered,” said Mayor Stephens.

“We did receive a list of recommendations from the MTO that we tabled last night (at a roads committee meeting January 4) after our meeting with ministry representatives in December,” said Mayor Stephens. “Some councillors were not satisfied with the reply and are asking for MPP Michael Mantha to comment and to see if he received a copy of the actual study that was carried out.”

Councillor Derek Stephens, chair of the Central Manitoulin roads committee said, “we received a message from the MTO with some recommendations., but it not what we are looking for. And we haven’t got a copy of the full report that was carried out.”

Councillor Stephens pointed out in the recommendations from the MTO, “there is nothing in there about four way flashing lights at the intersection, and a speed reduction on the highway coming into Mindemoya, which were things that we talked about at the meeting we had with MTO staff and Mr. Mantha (last December).”

Kristin Franks, manager, regional services and relationships with the MTO wrote in a letter to the municipality dated December 15, “thank you for meeting with the (MTO) on December 6, 2021, regarding the intersection of Highway 551 and 542. In follow-up to our discussion, I am pleased to provide the municipality with a list of proposed recommendations for improvements to the intersection.”

“The safety of the people traveling on Ontario’s highways is a responsibility that the ministry takes very seriously. As you know, the ministry recently completed an operational performance review of this intersection to determine if operational or safety concerns exist and to determine what, if any, mitigation strategies are required. As part of our review, we evaluated the latest 10 years collision history, sight lines at all approaches to the intersection, as well as operating speeds on both highways approaching the intersection,” wrote Ms. Franks.

“The ministry’s review of the intersection of Highway 551 and Highway 542 indicated that this intersection is operating as designed,” wrote Ms. Franks. “There were no concerns identified in regard to speed, volume, capacity, collision history, or level of service. It was noted that there are missing or damaged signage, faded pavement markings, and restricted sightlines due to parking violations. To address these concerns, the following recommendations are proposed:  the highway junction sign for southbound traffic, currently located 500 metres from the intersection, will be removed and replaced with an advance road identification sign. A highway junction sign is missing for northbound traffic. An advance road identification sign will be placed here as well. On the southbound approach, the west ‘no parking’ sign is to be relocated closer to Douglas Drive at the beginning of the white hatched area. On the northbound approach, the ‘no parking’ sign is damaged and will be replaced. On the southbound approach, the roadway identification sign overhanging the sidewalk is to be relocated to eliminate overhand.”

“The ministry’s traffic section will review the appropriate standards and geometrics to determine the proper placement of new signs,” wrote Ms. Franks. “Ministry staff will review options for improved illumination on the current illuminated stop sign to increase visibility.

As for pavement markings Ms. Franks explained, “faded centre-line markings are to be refreshed in the spring to enhance visibility. And a review will look at the need to expand white hatched pavement marking to deter right turn movement.”

“The ministry will continue to evaluate the quality of our provincial highway infrastructure to ensure the safety of the travelling public,” added Ms. Franks.

Councillor Steve Shaffer said, “our proposal to have an amber flashing red light at the intersection was new information to their (MTO) traffic people at the meeting. And they said it might not be doable to have a connection or this at the intersection through hydro, because of the costs involved. Mr. Mantha pressed them on what the cost would be, but they (MTO) said they didn’t have the final costs on this. And they said the idea of having a four-way stop at the intersection could cause more problems than solutions for traffic.”

Mayor Stephens said that the town has looked at having four-way streetlights installed, “towns and cities have the options of installing them on their own. For instance, Espanola has control of their highways. We’ve kicked the idea around, but no one wants to take on this responsibility, it’s their (provincial property). Just because the highways go through the municipality, it’s provincial property, not the municipality’s.”