Saturday, May 03, 2008

speed up

10 km increase approved for Cootes

Sign will show drivers how fast they travel

Craig Campbell
Published on May 02, 2008

McMaster University hopes to attach a speed measurement sign to a bridge over Cootes Drive soon, as the City of Hamilton finalizes a 10-kilometer per hour increase to a controversial stretch of road.

City Council supported a motion by Dundas' Russ Powers, last Wednesday, to increase the speed limit around Cootes and a pedestrian controlled crossing at Sanders Boulevard from 40 to 50 km-h.

The new speed zone will stretch 888 metres north, towards Dundas, from Main Street West.

Once the official bylaw is signed by Mayor Fred Eisenberger and sent to the city's traffic engineering and operations department, the increase will mark the third speed limit at the location within the past year.

The speed dropped from 60 to 40 km-h last spring, before its upcoming move to 50 km-h.

City studies showed the change had little effect on driver behaviour, as most cars continued to travel above the original 60 km-h limit.

Hart Solomon, manager of traffic engineering, said the speed limit increase will be co-ordinated with McMaster's installation of a speed sign on the bridge they own over Cootes Drive.

And Terry Sullivan, director of security and parking services at Mcmaster, said the solar powered sign has been delivered and almost ready to put up.

"It will show your speed and the speed it should be," Mr. Sullivan said.

McMaster and the city are sharing the cost of the sign and its installation.

A former Hamilton Police Service superintendent for the division that served Dundas, Mr. Sullivan compared the sign to the small versions seen at some road construction sites, showing drivers if they are travelling above the recommended speed.

"Some say they're ineffective and some say they are effective," he said. "When I go through construction zones with them, I'm always alert.

"It's going to be an extra reminder."

The former police officer supports city council's decision to raise the limit halfway to its former rate.

"I think it was an appropriate response," Mr. Sullivan said. "I think 50 is a good compromise. We're looking forward to that."

Transportation for Liveable Communities, a transit, pedestrian and cyclist interest group based at McMaster, supported the 50 km-h compromise, as long as other recommendations from a 2004 consultant's study were also introduced.

Synectics Transportation Consultants recommended not only the pedestrian controlled crossing that was later adopted, but also a number of other changes to decrease the "hazardous" rate of speed discovered.

Randy Kay, a Dundas resident and TLC member, said a few weeks ago the 50 km-h limit appeared to be the politically acceptable compromise, but even with such a change drivers "will still be speeding at whatever feels comfortable."

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