BLYTH – Jamie McCarthy, North Huron’s director of public works, provided a report to council on Sept. 20 regarding Huron County council’s plans for an environmental study to be conducted at the intersection of County Roads 4 and 25 in Blyth.
The county installed radar actuated LED lighted stop signs and flashing ‘stop ahead’ signs at this intersection in response to the many concerns received from North Huron residents and motorists about the intersection’s safety.
McCarthy reported that “despite the installation of these safety measures, drivers are failing to slow down and/or stop at this busy intersection.”
The report said that due to an increase in pedestrian and cyclist traffic, and present and future development potential in the area, the county is moving forward with a class environmental assessment (Class EA) to investigate safety improvement options at this intersection.
Options for improvements include, but are not limited to, calming traffic measures, turning lanes, signals, and roundabouts.
According to the Ontario government website, a Class EA is a document that sets out a standardized planning process for classes or groups of activities. It applies to routinely carried out projects and has predictable environmental effects that can be readily managed.
Projects defined within a class environmental assessment require no further environmental approval under Section 5 of the Environmental Assessment Act, conditional upon being planned according to the procedures set out in the document and not being subject to a Part II Order.
“The current term of council and past councils have expressed concerns regarding the safety of this intersection,” the report said. “It is recommended North Huron council pass a motion directing staff to issue a letter in support of the Class EA process.”
The Class EA process aims to identify any potential environmental impacts associated with the proposal and plan for appropriate mitigation of any effects.
The process includes consultation with the public, stakeholders, Aboriginal communities, and review agencies. Comments that will be provided to the county consultant in regards to the above-mentioned Class EA are as follows:
- Sidewalk installations: It is recommended and agreed that an engineering study would alleviate the chance of redundant infrastructure placement.
- It is recommended the county, and surrounding municipalities continue to work collaboratively in developing reasonable recommendations to address the safe movement of both traffic and pedestrians at this intersection.
- It is recommended that the Central Huron and North Huron consider a cost-sharing agreement for pedestrian traffic and a coordinated construction effort.
- Underground infrastructure needs to be considered in the construction and coordination of any upgrades or additions to the work plan.
- The Village of Blyth sign may be required to move locations to assist with sightlines. If relocation of the sign is necessary, it should be located on North Huron owned property.
The report also stated that future considerations include, depending on future scenario options, budgeting for “the installation and maintenance of sidewalk and potential upgrades any existing buried infrastructure.”
Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times