Traffic should be flowing smoothly now in Grand Falls-Windsor.
Anyone noticing blinking traffic lights in the community over the past week will notice the stop signs that were placed where working lights used to be have been removed.
This after controllers were replaced in not one, but two lights in the community.
The equipment which controls timing and sequence of lights on both lights at Union Street and the intersection of Cromer Avenue and Pinsent Drive failed, according to Councillor Darren Finn, chair of the public works and planning committee.
Local staff was able to fix them temporarily, but routinely by mid-afternoon, they would be defaulted in errors again.
As well, there were employees from a traffic light company out of St. John’s trying to do corrections remotely, and even visited the site, and they couldn’t physically fix them.
“A controller is not a minor piece of equipment, it doesn’t usually fail so it has to be totally replaced; it’s not something we have in stock, it had to be brought in,” Coun. Finn said. “There’s not a great deal of lights in our town so it’s something specialized that we’re bringing in.”
The lights were worked on daily and after the equipment was replaced on Thursday, they were up and running again on Friday.
And there are recommendations for other upgrades as well.
“It is older infrastructure that we need to plan to replace - the controllers and the poles and lights,” Coun. Finn said. “We had a traffic study completed last year that gave us traffic counts and volumes on 12 different intersections in town, mostly along Cromer Avenue, Harris (Avenue) and Hardy (Avenue). Some of the recommendation on that report gave us recommendations for changes in the timing sequences between the lights for improvements on the flow and also they recommended some changes in the types of lights that we have on our streetlights. The new standard is the 12 inches LEDs, and those are an older style of streetlights.”
The study also recommended backboards on some of the lights that are southern exposed so that when people are stopped looking into the sun, they can still see the lights.
Those are some changes he said council is already aware of, however, they thought it was just the signal heads that needed to be replaced. Now with the controllers failing, that will need to be looked at in capital works in the next couple of years.
“It’s certainly something that we are not ready to commit to right away,” Coun. Finn explained. “We’ll maintain these by changing controllers and whatever we need to do because it is older technology but it works fine. We will replace them over time and we will also change the traffic heads in the short term to the newer type of lenses.”
There were a number of other recommendations in the traffic study, including a big job for the intersection on Cromer Avenue, Duggan Street, Earle Street and Harris Avenue. “They recommended a traffic light, only if future retail developments happen there, which would increase traffic flows,” Coun. Finn said.
With the Kent construction, he said, this has happened since the report was complete.
“So council has decided to go ahead with that recommendation and to extend Cromer Avenue into Princess (Drive), that’s a two-lane extension,” Coun. Finn said. “And we’ll bend Duggan Street into Harris (Avenue) and Cromer (Avenue) straight into Earle (Street) and continuing on into Princess (Drive) and put a four-direction signal lights there similar to what’s on Union (Street).”
That work is already underway and being surveyed, he said, and it should be completed before the end of October.
“There are a number of intersections where changes were recommended, but most of the recommendations were dealing with signal heads…and backboards in some locations, but some of it was where we located our crosswalks - the change is to bring them more forward ahead of the traffic so when traffic stops at the stop bar, that the crosswalks are actually ahead of that,” Coun. Finn said.
It was also recommended to install audio signaling for the visually impaired at high traffic area cross walks, and to paint solid yellow lines as opposed to broken lines in those high traffic areas as well, as they wear better and there is a better chance drivers will see the lines on dark, rainy nights and throughout the winter, even when they are faded.
“Some of our painting for this year is done with the intermittent lines but going forward, anything that’s intermittent, you will see solid,” Coun. Finn said.
Coun. Finn said they are also looking at the recommendations to change traffic flow around Tim Hortons and changing the turning radius where Duggan Street meets Cromer Avenue on the south end near the highway.
“So that when tractor trailers come out of Duggan and turn onto Cromer, the turning radius is too sharp and it causes tractor trailers to cross three lanes of traffic on Cromer,” Coun. Finn said.
Since there are a lot of companies on that street “it’s not just an occasional issue, it’s a daily issue.”
“And in the Tim Hortons area we’re looking at having a right turn only. Obviously it’s a high-conflict area and there has been traffic accidents documented to verify the number of conflicts there and when you have traffic exiting a high-volume franchise crossing two lanes of traffic so close to a stoplight trying to make a left-hand turn, it just invites traffic accidents.”
The traffic was counted, and though Coun. Finn said its average daily counts so it’s not original vehicles but vehicle passes, they know the busy intersections in town.
“Along Cromer Avenue they are all high, but the highest (volume intersection) is coming off the Trans-Canada Highway in a westbound direction turning on to Cromer next to the Sweeney Ford dealership,” Coun. Finn said. “The average daily count on that intersection is around 16,000 vehicles a day.”
All long Cromer Avenue the volumes are in the range of around 12,000-14,000 vehicles on every intersection, he said.
“Then when you get off onto the secondary roads off of Cromer the volumes are around 6,000-8,000 on the intersections.”