Cabana Road widening causing safety concerns near school

·4 min read
Najat Rizkallah says cars passing through the area don't always obey her stop sign. (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)
Najat Rizkallah says cars passing through the area don't always obey her stop sign. (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)

Residents who live along Cabana Road in South Windsor are fed up with the changes to the road causing more traffic in their area and they say it poses a risk to children crossing the street.

"The city has made it into a mini-highway," said Shirley Watson, who lives on the corner of Karen Street and Cabana Road.

"We're even thinking of moving because it's just so ridiculous."

The stretch of Road at Cabana street and Karen Road was widened four years ago from two lanes to four. It's part of work happening along the Cabana corridor to help cope with current congestion levels but also with future traffic created by the not-yet-built mega hospital.

Residents say the changes to the road have brought noise and speeders into the area, but they are also particularly concerned with the safety of children being dropped off at Roseland Public School, which is located on a busy section of Cabana that does not have a proper crosswalk, streetlight nor is it considered a school zone.

"People are just in a hurry to pick up their kids and they're not thinking about anything or anyone else," Watson said.

'It's not easy'

Najat Rizkallah has been a crossing guard for kids at the school for about four years now and said it can be scary at times, working on the road.

"It's not easy," she said, adding that sometimes cars lining up to pick up their children block the crosswalk and others passing through the area don't want to obey her sign.

"Sometimes [it's dangerous] when the driver don't want to stop, don't want to listen and they want to keep going and we have the stop sign up."

Kayla Tomlinson is a Grade 8 student at Roseland and lives right across the road. She says it can be a bit scary to cross the street at times.

"I've seen the crossing guards almost get hit at times. My friend was crossing the other day and she almost got hit from a car that was speeding through the intersection," she said.

Jacob Barker/CBC
Jacob Barker/CBC

"When I was little, there wasn't this many lanes, so yeah [it has changed]."

Watson also says that large trucks are often seen travelling down Cabana despite signage, creating noise early in the morning and adding an additional concern for safety.

"Traffic is crazy, we have 18-wheelers coming down here," Watson said. "My fear is that an 18-wheeler is not going to be quick enough to stop for the crossing guards or not even see them."

In the past, city council considered a pedestrian-controlled crosswalk be put in at that corner, an idea backed by the school board, but according to ward councillor Kieran McKenzie, there was a recommendation against it because it wouldn't meet a provincial guideline surrounding crosswalk placement.

"It's a bit ironic, the width of the road, especially that it has active transportation lanes on both sides made the road wider than the recommended width to have a pedestrian-activated crossing," he said.

In a statement, the Greater Essex County District School Board said it would get behind any measure that would make the area safer.

"We would support an additional traffic light or enhanced police presence at first bell and dismissal times, for sure," the statement read.

Jacob Barker/CBC
Jacob Barker/CBC

After witnessing some of the chaos created during pick-up time for children at the school on Tuesday, McKenzie said he shares the concerns with people in the area and agrees something needs to be done.

"Something better needs to be done with respect to the public safety element," McKenzie said. "I think it is just a matter of time before something very serious does happen and I'm going to make it my job to make sure that doesn't eventually happen."

McKenzie said he would be raising the concerns again with council suggesting that perhaps city engineers could explore the idea of having a lighted intersection.

Development reason for further concern

Watson is also concerned that traffic in the area will be further exasperated by a large new development going in across the street at the end of Clara Avenue.

"They do also have access to Howard [Avenue] but there's no way they're just going to sit on Howard to try and get through, so they're going to come this way," she said. "How is this area going to handle that? It doesn't make sense to me that we're already busting at the seams and they funnelled everything into this one area."

McKenzie said there are five developments happening along Howard Avenue right now that require serious capital investments.

Jacob Barker/CBC
Jacob Barker/CBC

"Certainly the other surrounding neighbourhoods are being impacted by the intensification we are seeing along Howard," McKenzie said.

"The problems we're seeing here at the corner of Karen and Cabana are only going to be exasperated once we get the full infill from the developments that are in active construction," he said.

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