By Ron Giofu
While preliminary work has started on the Sandwich St. repaving project, town council has sent the relining project back to the drawing board.
Todd Hewitt, the town’s manager of engineering operations, told the River Town Times last Friday he had been speaking with the town’s traffic engineer with the MMM Group after council gave direction to take another look at the three-lane alignment that the town had originally approved last month.
Hewitt said the traffic engineer is working on the matter and believed a new recommendation could come this week.
Dr. Frank Fox told town council at their meeting last week that realigning the road into three lanes – a northbound lane, a southbound lane and a centre left turn lane – and thus eliminate 53 on-street parking spaces would negatively impact business owners in the area. He used Kaysho Emporium, owned by his son Adam, as an example.
“Eliminating parking will almost certainly put them out of business,” said Fox.
Fox added he has heard from other business owners along Sandwich St. who are not pleased with the plan to eliminate the 53 spots and didn’t believe the realignment of lines would improve traffic flow along Sandwich St.
Deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland thanked Fox for his delegation, adding that Fox brought up issues that he didn’t think of during the July meeting. Sutherland wanted to know what would happen if the centre turn lane was removed.
Hewitt told council there is driver confusion in front of General Amherst High School where drivers think it is four lanes at the stop light at the crosswalk. The three-lane realignment was done through the entire street to create consistency for drivers. He added that a letter was circulated to residents and businesses in that corridor with two calls resulting from it.
Councillor Diane Pouget emphasized that she voted against the realignment proposal last month and told Fox “your concerns are my concerns.” She suggested council revisit the issue, which they later did when the July motion was reconsidered and a new motion was drafted to get a new look at the realignment of the lines on Sandwich St.
“We put the cart before the horse,” said Pouget. “This is really going to hurt a lot of businesses. We’re eliminating 53 parking spaces.”
Councillor Carolyn Davies wondered if the road could have the “serpentine flow” similar to that of Tecumseh Road in Windsor where parking is allowed in some stretches and not in others. Davies added she still wants to see if there is a way to place bicycle paths along Sandwich St.
Councillor Bart DiPasquale believed the town should consider adjusting the original proposal to better suit businesses in the area.
“We should look at everyone affected and try to accommodate them if we can,” said DiPasquale.
Mayor Wayne Hurst said the road is there to have traffic move through town and believed parking could be found nearby.
“Understand what the purpose of the road is for – to convey traffic through there,” said Hurst. “You may have to walk a little bit but there’s all kinds of parking.”