And Tony Cecutti says the measures – including the traffic island that's a big source of complaints – are doing what they're supposed to do – slow people down.
“We're largely happy with what the traffic calming has done,” Cecutti said.
“Drivers get a little nervous when the road narrows, so they slow down. So from that point of view, it works.”
In place since 2009, traffic calming measures on Southview have led to a drop in the average speed in the area, but many residents have a hard time getting in and out of their driveway. Door-to-door postal service came to a halt last winter because Canada post ruled the busy street was too dangerous for carriers.
Last week, the city's operations committee heard a presentation from Southview resident Daniel Barrette calling on the city to remove the island, narrow the roadway and reduce the speed limit to try and improve the situation.
A small sampling of residents this week found a mixed bag of opinions. Some said the measures haven't reduced the number of cars using the street, while others said they have helped, but more steps are needed.
“It's better than how the (traffic) was in the past,” one resident said, but drivers still go too fast. “Stop signs might be good. They might deter people from coming down here.”
Another resident said getting out of her driveway is more difficult than ever, making the road “even more dangerous” than before.
“The (traffic island) is an eyesore and has done nothing,” the woman said.
While the measures aren't perfect, Cecutti said alternatives would create bigger problems. For example, speed bumps slow down drivers, but they damage vehicles and present big problems for Sudbury Transit buses, snowplows and emergency vehicles.
“On key routes, we don't want to be slowing them down when they really need to get to their destination as quick as possible,” he said.
Stop signs frustrate motorists, causing them to drive more aggressively, he said. And they also create a constant lineup of cars, making getting out of a driveway even more difficult.
When the city put in the measures in 2009, the vast majority of residents said their priority was traffic calming, Cecutti said. And while more recent surveys have found most residents aren't happy, they don't agree on what needs to change.
“They're not consistent,” he said. “Some want it easier for cyclists, some want things easier for pedestrians; they want more traffic calming, they want less traffic calming.”
With limited resources and a huge road network to maintain, Cecutti said money for traffic calming is limited. To maximize the work, they incorporate them during road reconstruction work whenever it makes sense.
The city is doing watermain work on Southview this summer, and while they're open to 'tweaks' of the existing traffic calming measures, there's a limit to what can be done.
“We don't have a large budget,” he said. “A huge change in the traffic calming might result in substantial costs.”
While the Southview traffic island isn't popular, it does force people to slow down, he said. And, he adds, it's not a roundabout.
“You will be seeing the city build roundabouts to control traffic at some bigger intersections. But the turning circle on Southview Drive is a traffic calming measure ... People have to turn a little bit and slow down to go over the bump.”
The bigger goal, Cecutti said, is creating a road network that is more pedestrian friendly, cyclist friendly, and assumes public transit will play a much larger role in getting people where they want to go within the city.
“There's a lot of interest in making Sudbury a better place for pedestrians and cyclists,” he said.
“The metamorphosis we're going through in Sudbury is not unlike what other cities are experiencing. People used to always take a car wherever they went. Now we're seeing a lot more support for the transit system. People want to use transit more, they want to cycle more, they want to walk more.”
As they become more common, residents will get more familiar and comfortable with traffic calming on city roadways, he said. The experience with Southview was a lesson for city staff, as well as a new experience for residents.
“Sudbury's going to become a place one day where transit plays a much bigger role, where cyclists have a bigger role,” Cecutti said.
“But it's very challenging to get from where we are to where we want to be, considering the limited resources we have ... So we take the opportunities when we can. We will include traffic calming as a component of road reconstruction whenever it's appropriate.”