A major change is coming to traffic flows on Thompson Road East at Townsend Centre.
Norfolk council has agreed to convert the intersection of Thompson Road East and Cockshutt Road to a four-way stop. As well, the speed limit in the approach to the intersection will be 60 km-hh in all four directions once the work is complete.
In a report to Norfolk council on Sept. 15, staff said safety at the intersection has been a longstanding concern for Norfolk OPP, Norfolk’s police services board and senior county officials.
“The intersection has a history of traffic incidents and concerns,” Jason Godby, Norfolk’s interim general manager of public works, said in a report to council. “The proposed all-way stop condition and speed reductions provide an immediate improvement to motorist safety at minimal cost.”
Some on Norfolk council were surprised to hear that a consultant’s report suggested that the best traffic-control solution was a roundabout – an intersection concept popular in Europe that has been making inroads in North America in recent years.
Norfolk council recently approved the county’s first roundabout on Highway 6, east of Port Dover, beside the Dover Coast subdivision. The Ministry of Transportation will construct it. Many local motorists will recognize the non-stop circular intersection from their travels in the Ancaster area.
Charlotteville Coun. Chris VanPaassen countered that he could not imagine a worse solution for the Townsend Centre intersection than a roundabout.
The same consultant’s report says the land available may be too small for a roundabout. The report says there are drainage issues that must be addressed and the potential for the expensive re-location of utilities.
Van Paassen suggested this means the county might have to expropriate land. He also noted that the intersection is surrounded by wetlands, which would require hard-to-get permits to infill. He also worries about installing a roundabout at the foot of an intersection fed by three steep hills.
Van Paassen and his council colleagues were also put off by the $1-million price tag.
“I can’t think of an intersection in Norfolk that is worse suited to a roundabout,” he said. “The sheer thought of putting a roundabout there just boggles my mind.”
Godby said Norfolk staff could retrofit the intersection as a four-way stop for a fraction of the price in a couple days.
As it stands, Thompson Road East has a long history of through traffic at Townsend Centre, while north-south traffic on Cockshutt Road is traditionally controlled by stop signs. The installation will include solar-powered beacons with flashing lights.
Traffic from 800 metres west of Townsend Centre to the eastern limit of Villa Nova was disrupted this summer for resurfacing work. Construction in this area is nearly complete.