Big changes are coming to how drivers get into and out of Old Town.
The pivotal intersection of Queen Street and Mississagua streets will become a three-way stop as of Tuesday, Aug. 3, following unanimous approval at a council meeting this week.
The intersection will be closed for the day during installation and traffic will be temporarily detoued, the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake said in a public notice.
The three-way stop is a pilot project and resident opinions will be gathered to determine whether is becomes a permanent feature. As well, a “bump out” will be installed on the north side of Queen Street in the intersection, to help slow traffic.
All the new features are intended to control traffic flow along Queen Street and create a moment of pause so tourists and drivers leaving Old Town do not miss the turn up Mississagua Street to get to the QEW.
Coun. Gary Burroughs was concerned that the appropriate traffic study was not completed by the town before making the changes.
“I’m kind of concerned that we do to many things that are not following the rules but following council’s directions,” Burroughs said.
A traffic study is usually done to ensure road installations maintain provincial standards.
Director of operations Sheldon Randall said a study is not needed, referring to the changes as a “traffic-calming feature.”
For the time being, the bump out will be limited to repainting the lines at the intersection. It is expected to be incorporated into the new gateway design planned for the site, with a garden bed planted to redirect traffic.
The bump out was recommended in the town's transportation master plan and is intended to direct traffic up Mississagua Street when vehicles leave Old Town.
Drivers frequently drive right through the intersection not realizing they missed their turn for the highway, ending up in the narrow laneways of the Chautauqua neighbourhood, Randall said.
This was a common concern cited by the Friends of Ryerson Park group during their presentations to council trying to solve traffic concerns in the area.
“Our point is to try and create a feature that they have to navigate around and then stop so they have time to take a look at the signs directing them back to the QEW,” Randall said.