After complaints that traffic is endangering students at the intersection of Algonquin Road and Field Street, the city is looking into whether a four-way stop should be placed there.
The intersection leads to St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School and the new Holy Cross Catholic Elementary School, which opened its doors for the first time at the beginning of September.
Simon Nickson, whose son attends Holy Cross, told Sudbury Catholic District School Board trustees earlier this month he fears a child will be hit at the intersection, and thinks there should be a four-way stop there.
His opinion is shared by school board trustees and the Sudbury Student Services Consortium, who have both contacted the city about the issue.
Dave Shelsted, the City of Greater Sudbury's director of roads and transportation, said his staff is currently doing a count of traffic and pedestrians in the area.
The information will then be compiled into a report, and presented to the city's operations committee, which has the power to make a decision about the issue.
Shelsted said his department agreed to do the traffic study some time ago, but had to wait until school started at Holy Cross to get accurate information.
He said it will only cost a couple thousand dollars to install a four-way stop at the intersection; however, it's a bad idea to put in a four-way stop if it's not needed, he said.
“If it's an unwarranted stop sign, people tend not to stop at them because if there's not a sufficient volume coming from the side streets, then people just tend to roll and go forward through them,” Shelsted said.
“It can decrease pedestrian safety at the intersection, because pedestrians actually have the right of way. They'll go out in front of the vehicle.”
In a Sept. 10 letter to the city, Renée Boucher, executive director of the Sudbury Student Services Consortium, also asks that sidewalks be installed on part of the south side of Algonquin Road.
If it's an unwarranted stop sign, people tend not to stop at them...
director of roads and transportation, City of Greater Sudbury
Shelsted said his department is currently developing a new sidewalk priority index.
“But there are lots of places where we've been receiving requests for sidewalks, and we've got a limited budget ... so what we're trying to do is prioritize them and address them on a needs basis.”
While these issues have not yet been resolved, Shelsted said his department did take some action to protect students by changing the speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h in the area.
Nickson also voiced his concerns about the fact that there wasn't a crossing guard in place at the intersection until three days after school started. School staff were forced to help their students across the street themselves.
There also weren't crosswalk lines painted across the road until the night before the crossing guard went on duty, and when they were painted, they were placed in an unsafe spot.
The crosswalk lines were initially painted in such a way that they joined up with the side of the schools' driveway which does not have a sidewalk.
The responsibility for crossing guards lies with the city's transit department.
Roger Sauve, director of transit, said the city has difficulty with recruiting crossing guards, and wasn't able to find one for Holy Cross until the end of August.
Once a crossing guard was hired, the transit department contacted the roads department to paint the crosswalk lines, “but we gave them virtually no time,” he said.
Crosswalks can't be painted until there's a crossing guard or some type of traffic control in place because it's a safety hazard, as pedestrians might feel it's safe to cross when it's actually not, he said.
“It was one of those things where we had to co-ordinate the two, and it all came together at the very last second, and it took about three days before they could get the lines down,” Sauve said.
“I could not have the guard working without protection, and I couldn't have the kids crossing without a guard.”
Shelsted said the crosswalk lines were painted in the wrong place because of an error in information provided by the school board.
“Actually, the school board was responsible for designing the crossing and the connection to the city road network,” he said. “We painted them where it had been identified on the school board design.”
The city has since moved the crosswalk lines at the intersection at its own expense, and has also painted crosswalk lines across Field Street, Shelsted said.
Nickson and the school board also said they're concerned there's a city bus stop at the same intersection, meaning cars are driving around idling city buses right where students are trying to cross.
The school board has asked the city to move the bus stop away from the intersection.
Sauve said his department will “evaluate the situation to see if it is a hazard.” However, he has concerns about moving the stop.
“The bus stop was specifically put there to service those schools,” he said.
“Moving it away is going to create a little bit of a concern for the people who use it, specifically accessing that location.
“We have to be careful how far we move it because we're going to then deter people from taking the bus and make it more inconvenient for them.”