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Collingwood will need a bypass in next couple of decades, says consultant

An updated transportation study recommends several intersection upgrades over the next 20-30 years to accommodate increased growth, development, and traffic
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This slide from a presentation to Development and Operations Committee on Sept. 23, shows the intersections that will have the most delays due to increased traffic projections by 2041 if recommended upgrades are not completed. Image from Town of Collingwood

An updated transportation study for Collingwood suggests even with improvements to the town’s roads and infrastructure, the town will need an alternate route into and around Collingwood in the next 10 to 20 years.

The study, prepared by consultants at R.J. Burnside and Associates, recommends the town encourage the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario to advance planning for a Collingwood bypass.

The update to the town’s transportation study was presented to the Development and Operations Services Standing Committee last week by town staff and with input from a Burnside consultant.

The study updates a report by C.C. Tatham and Associates done for the town in 2012.

The 2019 update does not recommend any immediate upgrades to intersections in town, stating they all rate at a passable level of service.

The ratings were done for 20 intersections in Collingwood - none within the downtown core - and traffic counts were taken Dec. 12, 2018 (a Wednesday) from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The report also uses population and development increase estimates to predict the increase in traffic in Collingwood.

Downtown intersections were left out of the report because, according to the town’s director of engineering and public works Brian MacDonald, those intersections cannot be upgraded without removing buildings.

The intersections studied include those along Highway 26 from Cranberry Trail East along First Street and out to Beachwood Road, as well as intersections along High Street, Hume Street, Tenth Line, and Poplar Sideroad.

Most of the intersections received grades of A, B, or C except for the intersection at Highway 26 and Cranberry Trail East, however, those upgrades are the responsibility of the developer, according to town staff.

The Transportation Study recommends several intersection upgrades be complete by 2031, including the following:

  • Southbound left-turn and an eastbound right-turn lane on First and High Street ($500,000)

  • Left turn lanes in all directions, and right turn lanes for north, west, and eastbound lanes on Tenth Line and Mountain Road ($1.3 million) or a two-lane roundabout ($1.2 million) which has already been proposed for the intersection in town planning

  • North and southbound right-turn lanes and converting the existing westbound right-turn lane to a shared turn/through lane at Mountain Road and Cambridge Street ($550,000)

  • Additional traffic signals and a dedicated left-turn lane to all four approaches for High Street and Third Street/Cambridge Street ($1.2 million)

  • Either a two-lane roundabout or addition of traffic signals, a westbound left-turn lane and a northbound right-turn lane ($1.2 million for a roundabout, $500,000 for the traffic signal)

  • Traffic signals and a dedicated left-turn lane for all four approaches or a single-lane roundabout at Tenth Line and Sixth Street, which is Simcoe County jurisdiction ($1 million for either option)

  • Addition of a southbound left-turn lane on Raglan Street and Poplar Sideroad, also a Simcoe County intersection ($150,000)

  • Widen road to four-lane plus centre two-way left-turn lane at Mountain Road from Tenth Line to Cambridge Street, plus an urban cross-section and widening the bridge west of Cambridge Street ($8.3 million)

The Transportation Study update also included recommended improvements be made by 2041 including additional turning lanes at Balsam/Harbour Street West and Highway 26, at First and High Street, at Mountain Road and Cambridge Street, at High and Sixth Street and at Poplar Sideroad and Concession 10.

The study also recommends a two-lane roundabout or traffic signals and turn lanes at Raglan Street and Poplar Sideroad by 2041, which is also a Simcoe County intersection. The estimated cost for a roundabout there is $1 million or $600,000 for traffic signals and turning lanes.

The study further recommends widening Highway 26 to four lanes plus a centre two-way left-turn lane from Harbour Street West to Grey Road 21. The estimated cost for that widening project is $11.7 million.

And for another estimated $3.5 million, the study recommends widening High Street to a four-lane road with an urban cross-section (curbs, bike lanes, sidewalks) by 2041.

Collingwood resident Dean Taylor was at the Development and Operations meeting last week and suggested the traffic data collected didn’t represent the peak times when part-time residents are in town.

John Velick, manager of engineering for Collingwood, said it was standard practice to measure average and not peak traffic to make sure the town was not over-designing its intersections and roads.

Taylor said Collingwood’s traffic was more unique due to tourism and part-time residents.

“As we look at the town and the future of the town, I believe it would be fair to say we look at tourism as the primary driver,” said Taylor. “I ask you to revisit some of the projections and assumptions given the nature of the community.”

Velick told the committee if all the recommended upgrades included in the study were completed, there would still be one intersection in Collingwood that likely couldn’t handle the increase in traffic predicted by 2041, and that is High and First Street.

High and First Street intersection is already built out, and, therefore, the consultants recommend alleviating the through-traffic burden on the intersection by pushing the province for a highway bypass around Collingwood.

The Transportation Study includes only vehicular traffic and looks at the town’s major roads and intersections.

Director MacDonald said the study is part of the town’s multi-layered approach to all traffic including pedestrian and active transportation. He said the Transportation Study will be among others such as a traffic calming report and a cycling report will feed into the town’s official plan.

None of the recommended road projects has been approved by the town. The typical process for capital projects such as road upgrades is to include them in the town’s annual budget discussions.

To read the full transportation study update prepared by Burnside, click here.


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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 13 years of experience as a local journalist
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