Review: Current detour routes for the Parkhill Road East closure

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Aeriel of Peterborough Otonabee River

Peterborough, ON - The City of Peterborough reviewed various alternatives to the current detour routes for the Parkhill Road East closure related to the replacement of the Warsaw Swing Bridge by Parks Canada from October 5, 2020 to spring 2021 and has made additional information available.

As part of the detours, only local traffic is permitted on MacFarlane Avenue, Old Norwood Road and Maniece Avenue between Television Road and Ashburnham Drive.

The reasoning for limiting traffic on the three streets noted above is:

  • The streets are not designed to handle the volume of traffic that is experienced on Parkhill Road East. Putting that volume of traffic along those stretches of streets would create safety concerns, including at intersections where turning movements with that volume of traffic could create an unsafe situation.
  • Turning movements on Television Road at the intersection for these streets, if they were used as detour routes, would lead to backed up traffic on Television Road and create dangerous situations for motorists based on the volume of traffic experienced on Television Road.
  • Detour traffic using those three streets would likely funnel to the one-lane crossings at McFarlane Street and the Lift Lock tunnel, backing up traffic and creating an unsafe situation at those one-lane crossings.
  • There is a school zone on McFarlane Street, where some of the traffic would be funneled to if the detours included the one-lane McFarlane Street bridge.

There are three alternative two-lane crossings that can accommodate the increased traffic that are within about five kilometres of the temporarily closed bridge – Nassau Mills Road, Maria Street, and Lansdowne Street.

The City appreciates that the detours create an inconvenience for some residents as they need to go to an alternative crossing point; however, detour routes were decided after reviewing the affected traffic flows, the integrity of the infrastructure, and safety considerations.

The City will continue to monitor operations on the area road network and on Lansdowne Street during the detour to facilitate traffic flows. For example, the City has already observed an increase in traffic using the single-lane bridge on McFarlane Street and the single-lane Lift Lock tunnel of about 6% per day (a 12% increase in traffic during peak periods each day) even with the detours that are in place.

The City understands there is interest in more details on the considerations that went into the decisions related to the detour routes.

Options considered

The City has considered various options to mitigate concerns related to safety, infrastructure capacity, and the inconvenience associated with the detour routes.

Having police officers direct traffic at the intersections to the side roads during peak periods each day

On-duty police officers would not be available for this work. Any police assistance would be through paid, off-duty officers. For this type of off-duty, overtime work, Peterborough Police Service wouldn’t be able to guarantee availability for each day for the eight-month duration of the disruption.

The cost for traffic control at the three intersections on Television Road in the morning and afternoon over the duration of the disruption, Monday to Friday, is estimated to be about $250,000 to $300,000 for each of the roadways – Maniece Avenue, MacFarlane Avenue, and Old Norwood Road.

Additionally, there is the potential for increased collision/safety issues if officers are asked to stop traffic on Television Road at an intersection that is not signalized to allow cars to turn onto Maniece Avenue.

Enforcing reckless driving and vehicle operation and parking concerns (e.g. parking on sidewalks, parking in crosswalks, parking in no stopping) in school zone

It can help while enforcement is present, but behaviour typically returns as soon as enforcement gone.

Enforcing speeding instead of shutting down the roads

Speed is only one of several concerns related to the opening of these roads to through traffic. With over 10,000 vehicles a day that typically use Parkhill Road opening Old Norwood Road, Maniece Avenue and/or MacFarlane Avenue to through traffic would encourage a large number of these vehicles to use these roads (instead of the posted detour route) resulting in a number of operational and safety concerns.

Installing temporary traffic signals at affected intersections

Temporary traffic signals cost about $150,000 to procure and install at each intersection. It would take about three months to design, order and install the temporary equipment.

Lowering speed limit in school zone permanently

Speed limit is already lowered during school time when risk is most apparent.

Lowering speed limit in school zone during school-in/out times with flashing lights

This is already in place – 40 km/h with flashing lights.

Opening some or all the streets that are closed to through traffic

Beyond the concern about the capacity of the individual streets to handle that volume of traffic, the opening or partial opening of the streets would increase traffic flows on the McFarlane Street single-lane bridge and the single-lane Lift Lock tunnel on Hunter Street. The ability of these single-lane crossings to accommodate increased traffic may become an issue moving forward.

Installing all-way stops on Television Road at the affected intersections

With the volume of traffic on Television Road, all-way stops would lead to extensive traffic backup/lines on this heavily used corridor.

Traffic Calming measures on McFarlane Street in the school zone, such as artificially narrowing the street to reduce speed

Parked vehicles during pick up and drop off already narrow available space to some extent Implementing further physical measures would restrict access to shoulders for drop off / pick up – forcing this activity into the neighbourhoods – this was a concern during Armour Road closures.

Traffic calming, on its own, does not address other issues such as traffic volume, the handling of traffic movements at intersections with increased traffic volumes, and increased traffic volumes using the single-lane bridge on McFarlane Street and the single-lane tunnel at the Lift Lock.

Installing a temporary bridge

This idea has been reviewed with Parks Canada. The time needed to install a temporary bridge would be as long as installation of the new permanent bridge being installed by Parks Canada.

Any bridge, temporary or permanent, is an engineered structure that would require design in relation to the site and rating for traffic volumes with approval from all the regulatory authorities to ensure the safety of the structure.

A temporary bridge built north or south of the existing bridge would involve building a new road to the temporary bridge, so that the existing bridge can be rebuilt. Building the roadway approaches to the temporary bridge would require associated permits and the potential use of private property.

Calling the military to install a temporary bridge used during emergency situations has not been pursued as there are three alternative crossings (Nassau Mills Road, Maria Street, Lansdowne Street) within about 5 kilometres of the temporarily closed bridge.

Additional efforts to deal with increase in heavy vehicle traffic on alternative routes

Additional signs have been installed to advise trucks of restrictions on McFarlane Street bridge. The road closures provide an additional level of protection of the infrastructure and local community. Out of town drivers typically do not know the road network and rely on GPS – which guides them into this area. Advisory signage about the closure and posted detour routes are in place on Highway 115 and Highway 7, County Road 4, Television Road, Parkhill Road, and Water Street north of Nassau Mills Road to intercept vehicles that would typically use Parkhill Road. Trucks are advised to use D-1 detour route, which takes them north to Nassau Mills Road to cross the canal.

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For additional details, members of the media are invited to contact:

Brendan Wedley, Manager of Communication Services

City of Peterborough