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Monday, December 5, 2022
Editorial: Niagara’s shiny new diamond
Richard Harley’s editorial “Short-term rentals: Part 2: Too much industry influence,” won first place for best local editorial in all of Canada in 2021. Harley was awarded second place in the Outstanding Reporter Initiative category for 2020, for his series of stories on how COVID-19 travel restrictions affected farms and seasonal workers. File

Mayhem, there’s gonna be head-on collisions, an accident waiting to happen … those were just some of the sentiments people expressed in recent weeks as the new diverging diamond interchange moved closer to reality.

The truth is that Ontario’s newest traffic innovation – the diverging diamond interchange at Glendale Avenue and the QEW – is a smooth and simple bit of road technology.

And it’s right at the tourist gateway to Niagara-on-the-Lake.

It’s not perfect and there’s still some construction happening on a couple of the ramps, but it is not the driving boondoggle that a lot of people in NOTL feared it would be.

It’s no revelation that the people of NOTL can be a bit change-averse. But on this one everyone can rest easy.

As our story and accompanying video on NiagaraNow.com show, navigating the lanes is pretty simple and just require that drivers pay attention. As we’re always supposed to.

Having driven the existing diverging diamond roadway in Calgary several times, we can say  that if you’re focused on the signs and lane markings, you might not even notice you’re crossing over to the “other” side as you roll over the diamond.

All that said, NOTL’s interchange could use more signage. We expect things will be much clearer when the large green directional signs, now covered, are some day unveiled.

But there are a few spots where more signs or directional markings on the pavement would be helpful.

There’s a notable anomaly northbound on Glendale as you approach one of the sets of traffic lights.

Mammoth overhead signs remained covered and, almost directly below them, what appears to be a large expansion joint is visible. About 50 feet beyond that point is the stop line for the traffic light.

We have watched several drivers hesitate, then stop and wait at the expansion joint instead of proceeding all the way up to the stop line.

The visual cues of the overhead signs and that bridge joint seem to naturally inspire drivers to pull up early. (Hanging back also seems to affect the timing of the traffic lights.)

Maybe it’s because it’s new, and we’ll all adjust.

But if anyone wishes to complain about the diverging diamond, we suggest they focus not on its function but its $54-million pricetag.

That’s a lot of money and we’ve heard all the safety reasoning behind it – but we’re still unclear what problem it is meant to solve. Was there a problem?

We suspect this new innovation (Hey, NOTL, it even includes a roundabout!) will become a showpiece for Ontario’s transportation ministry to sell other regions on adopting a diverging diamond to solve their apparent traffic problems.

We’ll see. But in the meantime, drive with care and enjoy Niagara’s shiny new diamond.