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Fourth Street deputation presented a tough hill to climb

‘Without that sight line there’s not enough stopping distance and they’re very concerned,” Midland resident says of steep incline on heavy truck usage collector road

For one neighbourhood dealing with problem vehicles, residents have decided once again to make some noise.

Midland resident Stuart Copestake spoke to council at a recent regular meeting to provide an informal survey on behalf of his Fourth Street neighbours living between Yonge Street and Hugel Avenue.

“We’ve lived on Fourth Street for 20 years and have noticed an increase in the volume and speed of traffic over the last few summers,” Copestake explained. “We decided to see if other neighbours on the street felt the same way as us.”

The three main issues raised in the deputation involved speed, noise and prohibited use on the section of Fourth Street.

Prior petitions regarding the stretch of road had been given to council three times before Copestake took the virtual podium.

In 2019, a petition was given to council which resulted in a ‘heavy trucks no left turn’ sign at Yonge Street as well as a designated parking lane to use as a traffic calming strategy.

“The people of the street are very concerned about the safety of their family. Kids who might step out onto the road, people backing out of their driveways -- without that sight line, there’s not enough stopping distance and they’re very concerned,” Copestake expressed.

“Fourth Street is designated as a 40 kilometre per hour zone. This is due to a 3.1 degree slope on the northbound and 4.2 degrees southbound.

“This slope results in a sight line over the crest of the hill of approximately 81 meters; we measured this off with a tape measure, so that a vehicle coming up one side of the hill can only see 81 metres over that hill,” he added.

Copestake referenced the 2011 revisions for the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) document titled Geometric Design Guide for Canadian Roads, which noted that through decision sight distance on urban roadways, the safest distance to stop is 160 metres at a speed of 50 km/h.

“This is the crux of the problem on Fourth Street,” Copestake said.

Deputy Mayor Mike Ross noted that a majority of drivers are responsible but a small amount are the ones causing problems, and asked Copestake if speed was the deputation's underlying issue.

“It’s not just speed,” replied Copestake, “it’s acceleration.

“Acceleration is what’s causing all the noise and the pollution, but speed is what they attain when they get to the top of the hill. And we found that 63% of the northbound drivers are speeding; not 5% or 10%. 63% are speeding up to a maximum of 78 km/h in a 40. And southbound, 42% are speeding up to a maximum of 65. They’re not all doing 65, but they’re all doing 50 and in the low 60s.”

Noise up to 90 decibels are allowed through town bylaws, which Copestake noted accelerating vehicles such as motorcycles and trucks often exceeds.

Coun. Jonathan Main lives on Fourth Street, and shared relief that the issue was being brought before council once again.

“I have seen collisions. I have seen people in trucks and vehicles not be able to make it up the hill in snowy conditions, and I’ve even seen people slide into Yonge Street because they were carrying too much speed in wintry conditions,” Main shared.

Concerns of enforcement were raised by both Coun. Cody Oschefski and Mayor Stewart Strathearn. 

“I, like Coun. Oschefski, am a little flummoxed as to how you’re going to deal with people who would intentionally speed,” remarked Strathearn, who noted one example within town. “They’re doing 90 kilometres per hour through a 50 kilometre per hour zone deliberately; they don’t care.

“And I don’t know how you deal with those people. Until we can get fines from the province, where for example it’s going to cost you $1,000 or $2,000 for doing that very act and six months without a license or perhaps jail time, these folks don’t care. And those are the folks that, as the deputy mayor has said, are making it extremely difficult for you,” said Strathearn.

A revised traffic calming policy and guide for Midland was addressed later in the regular meeting, with council carrying the motion which looked at locations throughout the entire town including Fourth Street.

The outcome for the revised draft policy stated that Fourth Street between Yonge Street and Hugel Avenue would pass the pre-screen due to additions of collector roads within the guide, but that the stretch of road remained underscored in qualifying for traffic calming.

The slideshow deputation from Copestake and the revised traffic calming policy and guide are available in full in the council agenda on the town of Midland website.

Council meetings are held on the first and third Wednesdays of each month, and can be viewed on Rogers TV cable channel 53, or through the livestream on the Rogers TV website. Archives of council meetings are available through Rogers TV and on the Town of Midland’s YouTube channel.