Suggested roundabout for Queen’s Line-Merlin Road intersection

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After several years of discussions, a solution is finally proposed for a busy intersection between Tilbury and Chatham.

On Monday evening, councilors in Chatham-Kent will vote on a recommendation to bring a roundabout to the intersection of Queen’s Line and Merlin Road. The intersection is currently controlled by northbound and southbound stop signs on Merlin Road, with both stop signs highlighted with flashing red beacons.

In 2018, the municipality completed a traffic study for the intersection in hopes of investigating safety issues. One of the most talked about hazards, according to the report sent to the council, is the frequent number of motorists passing on the right side of a left-turning vehicle.

“The main safety issue raised about the intersection is the ‘passing right’ maneuvers that occur on Queen’s Line, primarily eastbound,” the staff report said. “Motorists generally risk these maneuvers in order to avoid waiting behind a vehicle attempting to make a left turn. The wide paved surface of the deck of the Government Drain #1 bridge allows vehicles to easily “go right”, sometimes at high speeds. The passing vehicle becomes a hazard to motorists in the opposite direction attempting to turn left, or vehicles on Merlin Road attempting to turn right onto Queen’s Line.

Other concerns are the lack of sight lines for left turns on Queen’s Line and the difficulty of turning or crossing Queen’s Line from Merlin Road.

Current intersection of Queen’s Line and Merlin Road (via the Municipality of Chatham-Kent)

According to the report, the traffic study recommended that the intersection be improved with left turn lanes on Queen’s Line and a traffic light or roundabout.

A traffic engineering consultant was commissioned to evaluate the two options and recommended a roundabout as the best design solution.

“Engineering has reviewed the report and found it to be complete in its evaluation of design alternatives. Therefore, based on the information provided in the consultant’s report, Engineering agrees with the round-robin’s recommendation. point… In addition to the consultant’s construction cost assessment, the roundabout will provide long-term cost savings over the traffic signal alternative,” the report read. Roundabout life cycle would be for roads, signs and streetlights, which are already incurred by the existing intersection and would be similar to the left turn lane and traffic signal alternative.However, a new traffic light signage will add an additional life cycle cost of approximately $6,000 per year to the intersection.”

The consultant estimated that a roundabout would cost around $2.1 million to build, compared to $2.9 million to supply traffic lights.

According to the staff, since a traffic light is controlled by electrical devices and equipment, it would require annual inspections, preventive maintenance and emergency maintenance costs due to malfunctions, collisions and damage caused. by bad weather.

At the end of 2021, a virtual public information center was also hosted by the municipality to collect feedback from residents on the two options.

According to the report, 118 responses were received at the public information center. Fifty-two respondents were in favor of a left turn lane/signalling device, 47 respondents were in favor of a roundabout, two said either design was good and 17 respondents said neither design was good.

The report notes that concerns were also raised during the public information session regarding the siting of a roundabout at the intersection.

Concerns included speculation that a roundabout would not be able to accommodate large trucks and farm equipment. However, the report states that the Chatham-Kent engineering department emphasized to the consultant that large trucks and agricultural vehicles must be a critical design influence in the design recommendation.

“A rural roundabout will be designed to accommodate haul trucks, including double trailers that may be diverted from Highway 401 upon activation of an emergency detour,” the report said. “The rural roundabout will have a larger diameter than existing examples found in the Chatham community.”

Engineering also responded to concerns about dangerous roundabouts and a lack of motorists familiar with their use.

“The roundabout design reduces the number of conflict points between vehicles compared to a conventional intersection found at a traffic light. As a result, the roundabout experiences 67% fewer collisions and 75% less severity with those collisions. Severe angle or ‘t-bone’ type collisions are eliminated in a roundabout,” the report states. “Roundabouts are becoming more common on provincial and municipal rural highways and as a result motorists are adapting to them.

The speed limit on Queen’s Line is currently 90 kilometers per hour and 80 kilometers per hour on Merlin Road. The roundabout would have a speed limit of 45 kilometers per hour.

Once the intersection improvement design has been selected, the municipality’s engineering and legal services department will begin the process of contacting adjacent landowners to negotiate land purchases. According to the report, the next step would be to issue a request for proposal to obtain an engineering consultant to provide detailed design and contract administration services for the project. Once the design is finalized, a tender will be issued to obtain a contractor to construct the new intersection.

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