There could soon be a lot more stop signs in Greater Sudbury, if requests for four way stops at several intersections are approved at Monday's operations committee meeting.
As a result of requests from residents, Ward 1 Coun. Joe Cimino is seeking four-way stop signs at Whittaker Street at Isabel Street; Isabel Street and Albinson Street; Irving Street at Clemow Avenue; Gold Street at Zinc Street; Moonrock Avenue at Arnold Street; and Niemi Road at Sugarbush Drive.
He's also is asking for a report by this March on changing yield signs to stop signs on Gemini Crescent and Moonrock Avenue, as well as on Jupiter Court and Arnold Street.
A staff report recommending against most of the requests for four way stops – with the exception of Isabel Street and Albinson Street, but including one for Morin Avenue at King Street – will be presented at the committee Monday. The report lists traffic guidelines that say four-way stops “should only be installed at busy intersections of two relatively equal roadways having similar traffic volumes.
“The unwarranted installation of an all-way stop will increase fuel consumption, vehicle emissions and noise” without improving safety.
The report recommends against the four-way stops at the six intersections, saying the warrants call for at least two collisions a year for three years. None of the intersections meet that standard.
However, last week at city council, a recommendation to remove four-way stops signs at five New Sudbury intersections was overturned and referred back to the operations committee, following a passionate debate.
Councillors such as Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann, Ward 10 Coun. Frances Caldarelli and Ward 8 Coun. Fabio Belli argued the four-way stops slow traffic and make residents feel safer.
Signs at Lansing Avenue at Melbourne Street, Hawthorne Drive at Westmount Avenue, Madeleine Avenue at Main Street and Madeleine Avenue at Alexander Street will all stay where they are, at least until the operations committee reviews them again.
At city council Jan. 14, Belli showed a clip of several vehicles rolling through or blowing stop signs downtown, including Sudbury Transit and Handi-Transit buses. Belli was countering a staff argument that putting four-way stops in places where traffic doesn't warrant them encourages drivers to ignore them.
Stop signs are being ignored all over, Belli argued, so should they all be removed?
He and Landry-Altmann both had petitions from residents in their wards calling for the signs to stay. He received lots of traffic complaints before the signs went up, Belli said, but not since, and no one has complained about the signs themselves.
“That's what (residents) want, we should give it to them,” he said, adding he was recently in Vancouver where intersections at every street seemingly has a stop sign.
“And I'm not opposed to that.”
Tony Cecutti, the city's general manager of infrastructure, said following existing guidelines to determine where stop signs and four-way stops should go is the best way to make decisions.
But it's difficult to counter emotional arguments from residents with statistics, he said, since it's a battle between perception and reality.
Ward 2 Coun. Jacques Barbeau said he was less concerned about whether the signs stay than with the staff time wasted preparing traffic studies at the request of councillors, only to have the results ignored.
“Let's not put staff put staff through the process of spending umpteen hours” on reports they discard if the conclusions don't match the outcome councillor wanted, Barbeau said.
“This happens council after council,” he said. “Our city is full of stop signs we don't need.”
Traffic issues will dominate Monday, as the committee will also consider a report calling for the speed limit at the corner of South Bay Road from Ramsey Lake Road to return to 50 km/hr, instead of 40 km/hr, where it has been since 2011. A staff report found the lower speed limit reduced average speed in the area by about six kilometres an hour, from 63 km/hr to 57 km/hr.
However, the lower limit has not reduced the number of accidents or improved safety, the report says. And a petition signed by 145 people in the area is asking the city to restore the speed limit to 50 km/hr.
And another report recommends against lowering the citywide speed limit for residential roads to 40 km/hr from the current 50 km/hr.
In addition to not being warranted, the staff report says that with more than 1,800 local and collector roads in the city totaling more than 2,900 lane kilometres, changing all the signs would be costly.
“Installing speed limit signs every 300 metres will result in the need for more than 9,600 signs at a total cost of approximately $2.5 million,” the report says.
Operations committee starts at 6 p.m. Monday in Room C-11 at Tom Davies Square. It's preceded by community services at 4 p.m.