Town to upgrade Victoria Street intersection

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Attempting to enhance safety following several close calls

Amherst is spending $27,630 to enhance safety at two downtown intersections.

Amherst has awarded a tender that will see new traffic signals installed on the Church-Victoria and Victoria-Havelock Street intersections. There have been several near misses between vehicles and pedestrians on the Church and Victoria Street intersection.

AMHERST – Amherst is making some changes to a downtown intersection that has seen more than a few close encounters between cars and pedestrians.

The town awarded a tender for $27,630 to Innovative Traffic Solutions to supply new traffic controllers for the intersections of Church and Victoria and Havelock and Victoria streets.

“This is a huge step forward, it’s something Coun. (Terry) Rhindress and I have been pushing for, for at least two years,” Coun. George Baker said. “This won’t be a solution, but it will be a huge help in making it safer for pedestrians to use the crosswalks in those intersections downtown.”

There have been several close calls between vehicles and pedestrians in the crosswalks. Baker said he was crossing the street on a walk light last July when he was almost hit.

“If she hadn’t stopped when she did I would’ve been hit. People see the green light and they go without looking at the crosswalk and at the same time pedestrians will step into the crosswalk on a walk light without looking.

The equipment, which will be installed by the town’s contract electrician and staff, includes the pedestrian timers, the pedestrian countdown timers and vehicle detection systems.

Baker said pedestrians will be able to see exactly how much time they have to cross the street when traffic is stopped and he said it will also be better for vehicles in that they won’t have to wait long periods at a red light when there aren’t other vehicles in the intersection.

As well, vehicles will no longer be able to make a right turn onto Church Street on a red light. Vehicles will still be able to turn right from Church to Victoria during a red light.

“I’m a little cautious about using the term solution because this is not going to stop all future occurrences,” Amherst police chief Ian Naylor said. “The fact is drivers and pedestrians each have a shared responsibility when it comes to safety in every intersection. We will do everything we can to enhance safety.”

Several councilors expressed concern with the new no right turn rule and wondered if officers would be writing a lot of tickets. Naylor replied that the department will focus on education and awareness before issuing tickets.

Baker said he would also like to eventually see something done with the crosswalk near the TD Bank. He’s hoping the town will be able to install lighting similar to what’s being used on South Albion Street.

In another traffic matter, Deputy Mayor Lisa Emery said the police commission has ongoing concerns with parking issues at Spring Street Academy and that after school a fully sworn police officer is being used as a crossing guard.

The board is asking the town and the chief to find the money to hire another crossing guard.

Emery said there’s a crossing guard at the corner of Havelock and Spring, but nothing at the other end on the corner of Spring and Clarence.

Naylor said he will gather information about the situation there, look at traffic patterns and bring a recommendation back to council.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Innovative Traffic Solutions, TD Bank, Street Academy

Geographic location: Victoria Street, AMHERST, Havelock Church Street South Albion Street

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  • Peter
    March 26, 2014 - 07:49

    $27,639 is a waste of money. The existing traffic lights could be programmed to have all lights red while the walk lights are on. As well all other traffic lights should be set that way. New traffic lights are not needed for that solution.

  • WestHighlandsResident
    March 25, 2014 - 21:17

    I appreciate the concern for student safety near Spring Street Academy. I would like to point out that West Highlands Elementary only has one crossing guard in it's area and that school zone covers some of the town's busiest streets and includes industrial areas. I think the town should have more crossing guards or better police patrols in ALL school districts when kids are going to and coming from school.

  • Robin
    March 25, 2014 - 19:07

    Finally! This intersection has been terrible since the walk light/red light changed to walk light/green light! The intersection at the Royal Bank is also precarious for pedestrians walking on the walk light. A lot of drivers see the green light and go, paying no attention to the walk light or the fact someone is in the crosswalk and rightfully so. Even trying to make eye contact with the driver doesn't work. I'm not as concerned with the crosswalk at the TD Bank because everyone has to pay attention to oncoming traffic and pedestrian with no safety-net/lights.