Pedestrian crossovers planned for Palmerston, Harriston intersections

Minto is aiming to have six new pedestrian crossovers in place by next fall.

The intersections to be redesigned include the corner of Main and William Streets in Palmerston, which has in the past been the subject of calls from some local residents for a full traffic light or crosswalk.

At the July 4 meeting, Minto council directed staff to proceed to implement new pedestrian crossovers at:

– Prospect Street (a town road) at the east entrance to Palmerston Public School;

– Toronto Street (a Wellington County road) and Prospect Street (town road) in Palmerston;

– Main Street (county road) and Brunswick Street (town) in Palmerston; and

– Arthur Street (provincial connecting link) and George Street (town) in Harriston.

In addition, staff was directed to proceed with relocating the current crossing at Elora Street (connecting link) and Union Street to Elora Street and William Street in Harriston.

 A new crossover on Main Street (county road) and William Street (town) is to be built by the Town of Minto with the intent it will be assumed by the county.

The installations are all subject to compliance with the Ontario Traffic Manual and approval by the appropriate road authority, notes a report from CAO Bill White.

At the May 2 council meeting, Safe Communities Wellington County gave an overview of new standards for school crossings, crosswalks and pedestrian crossovers, White explained in his report.

Safe Communities recommended all local municipalities change to the new standard in 2017 to ensure consistency across the county.

In 2017 funds were budgeted for a pedestrian crossing at Main Street and William in Palmerston and, White noted, the crossing must be constructed according to the new standard.

To ensure proper design and that all pedestrian crossovers in Minto are installed according to county and provincial requirements, Triton Engineering was engaged to evaluate each site to assess technical traffic requirements.

Howard Wray of Triton explained the intersection of Main and William in Palmerston does meet the warrants for the planned Type B pedestrian crossover.

The crossing will include installation of a push-button-activated amber flashing light to draw motorists’ attention to pedestrians attempting to cross. The crossing will also include an overhead sign for greater visibility.

“What I was looking for was a way to give pedestrians priority at a crossing when pedestrian volumes and traffic volumes are high enough to warrant it,” Wray explained, noting previously the only option was a full intersection pedestrian signal with traffic lights.

Wray explained that “sometimes when volumes are lower,” such crossing are “a little bit inefficient.”

Wray said he believes the new-style pedestrian crossovers are more efficient and generally safer.

“If a pedestrian is at the crosswalk (motorists) have to stop and have to stay stopped until the pedestrian fully crosses the road,” said Wray.

However, he noted, “they do operate on a right of way basis.

“Once (pedestrians) step into the crosswalk they have a right of way, but there is an onus on them to make sure it’s safe to do so. They can’t step in 10 feet in front of a vehicle,” he explained.

Wray pointed out engineers were still assessing the proposed locations and some of them may not end up meeting warrants for volumes of vehicular or pedestrian traffic.

“If the only pedestrians are crossing during school hours and there is only one or two the rest of the time, maybe the school crossing is still the more appropriate signage, at least for now,” he said.

Mayor George Bridge noted that despite Safe Communities’ pitch for uniformity, “It’s not just open season on everyone changing everything over … there has to be warrants.”

Wray stressed the Palmerston Main and William intersection does meet warrants for a crossover. He said, “We’re just getting some pricing finalized and comments from the county.”

Councillor Jean Anderson said she agreed with the Safe Communities push for standardization.

“Standardizing them would make a lot of sense,” she stated.

Wray  replied, “The warrant book does have specific warrants to put these PXOs in and you certainly don’t want to start putting them in where they’re not warranted.”

White’s report explained the reason for the move of the Elora Street crossing in Harriston.

The current crossing, where the town employs a crossing guard on school days, directs students down Union Street to the old walkway location through the former Harriston Senior School property. Re-development of the property has resulted in relocation of the crossing.

“Sidewalks have been constructed northwesterly down William Street to the walkway to Minto Clifford Public School,” the report states. “This is a more direct and safer route for children to cross. Staff will be advising the school board and administration of the change once the crossing has provincial approval.”

The town plans to pay for line painting and signage for the five regular crossings out of its operating budget. A budget of $10,000 is set for the new crossing at Main and William Street in Palmerston.

The final cost of the work is not confirmed, but added curb work could be included in the Jane Street reconstruction project already underway across from William Street, White notes in his report.

One parking spot will be lost at the downtown intersection as the result of the changeover.

Wray said the goal is to have the changes made before school begins this fall.