‘Not very pedestrian friendly’: Mount Forest intersection back before council

Mount Forest Business Improvement Association wants crosswalk infrastructure installed at downtown intersection

KENILWORTH — A crosswalk for Main Street South (Highway 6) and King Street East in Mount Forest is again before council after the intersection never made it to the province for review in January.

Mount Forest Business Improvement Association (BIA) members questioned why the intersection was never ultimately recommended by township staff for crosswalk infrastructure, councillor Sherry Burke told council last month.

Members called the decision an “oversight,” Burke said.

“They are very interested in seeing something done there.”

Though the township is the “road authority,” the intersection lies along Highway 6, considered a provincial “connecting link,” so the province must review and approve all traffic control devices before installation.

In 2019 and 2021, Fergus-based Triton Engineering Services Ltd. assessed four locations in Mount Forest and Arthur to determine if traffic lights or pedestrian crossings were justified.

Triton determined “the installation of traffic or pedestrian signals” wasn’t necessary at Main Street South and King Street East, although engineers concluded all locations would benefit from the installation of what’s known as a “Level 2” “Type ‘B’” crossover — essentially a “piano-key” painted crossing on the roadway, overhanging pedestrian crossing signs, and flashing beacons activated with a push button.

Engineers stated such a crossing at Main and King “is warranted and recommended, given that this location is on a pedestrian desire line and provides system connectivity.”

But in a recommendation to council by township staff, the intersection was not put forward for consideration, causing some councillors to question the decision at the time.

Councillor Penny Renken noted a pedestrian had been struck at the intersection, and councillor Sherry Burke said it’s chaotic at the best of times.

The Advertiser recently requested data from Wellington OPP regarding the number of pedestrians struck at the intersection in past years, but did not receive a response.

At the behest of Mayor Andy Lennox, council ultimately voted to send three of four intersection evaluations to the province for review and approval earlier this year.

Staff were instructed to return to council with options for Main and King, though Triton’s report had already provided recommendations.

Triton’s review of the intersection lasted eight hours in July 2019.

Engineers recommended the same infrastructure as the other three intersections with a report stating, “a [pedestrian crossover] at this location is expected to improve driver awareness of pedestrians crossing and improve pedestrian safety.”

The report also suggests some adjacent parking spaces may need to be removed to “provide sufficient sight distance” for people crossing.

Triton also suggested “curb bump outs” with accessible ramps to reduce crossing distance and improve accessibility.

Mount Forest BIA chair Andrew Coburn said a request for crossing infrastructure at the intersection was brought to the township in 2021.

“That crossing is not very pedestrian friendly,” Coburn said, adding a proper crossing would also slow traffic before entering the downtown business area.

Operations director Matthew Aston, also speaking by phone, told the Advertiser that reports in the fall of 2020 addressed pedestrian crossings but weren’t pulled by council for further discussion.

Coburn said BIA members were “a little bit surprised” this past January upon learning Main and King wasn’t recommended along with the other three intersections at council’s Jan. 16 meeting.

A motion by BIA member Bill Nelson, and passed at the association’s Feb. 14 meeting, recommends council formally support a road crossing both financially and to the province.

“The fact that the BIA has endorsed it now, that’s something that the township will continue to pursue,” Aston said.