CORNWALL, Ontario – The city’s traffic expert was grilled by city councillors over a controversial move last year to reduce the number of lanes on Second Street and add bicycle access.
Enrique Kamm, a traffic engineer, was questioned by a number of councillors on the move to cut the number of lanes to two from four, while adding turning lanes and another for bicycles that has drawn the ire of some motorists who complain things are clogging up on the busy thoroughfare.
In response to a question from Coun. Mark MacDonald about complaints from the public, Kamm suggested he had received only a handful.
Some councillors openly chuckled at that suggestion.
“I’ve heard from people – they’re not happy,” said Coun. Claude McIntosh.
MacDonald asked whether the project was being reconsidered.
“Second Street is done as far as the downtown and east end is concerned,” said Kamm. “We haven’t touched the west.”
That wasn’t good enough for McIntosh, who wants the city to determine the usage of the bicycle lanes versus motorized traffic.
He related a story from a homeowner in the area who spent a day counting vehicles last summer.
“I guess he didn’t have anything better to do,” said McIntosh. “But he counted 1,400 cars and one bicycle.”
McIntosh further asserted that the switchover has decreased the number of parking spaces allowed on Second Street, making specific reference to St. Francis de Sales Church where people parked on the street during services.
“Parking isn’t allowed there,” said Kamm.
“Then why aren’t the police giving out tickets?” replied McIntosh.
John St. Marseille, the city’s infrastructure manager, said 2014 was an unprecedented year of traffic headaches, with changes, closures and detours in places like Marlborough Street, Brookdale Avenue, Ninth Street as well as Second.
“We’re quite confident there was some exception to last year,” said St. Marseille.
Coun. Justin Towndale has asked that data be provided on traffic patterns on Second Street and Montreal Road.
Towndale suggested he has heard from residents both in support, and against, the changes on Second Street.
“It leans more towards the negative,” he said.