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Niagara Falls
Friday, June 14, 2024
Editorial: No more fatalities — cut down the tree
This tree on Lakeshore Road claimed another life this week. It's time to cut it down. KEVIN MACLEAN

A notorious stretch of Lakeshore Road needlessly claimed another life this week.

We are not sure what happened or why. Any number of factors could be at play, including speed, driver error, animals crossing the road, mechanical problems, bad luck or something else altogether.

But another person is dead.

And it happened almost a year to the day that another fatality occurred, at the same spot, when a small car hit the same tree.

The speed limit on that section of road, opposite the Niagara Lakeshore Cemetery, is 60 km/h. Unfortunately, it is a limit that many of us have trouble adhering to.

Traffic along Lakeshore often moves closer to 80 km/h or more. So, that is an issue and a consideration when looking to solve — or at least minimize — the serious problems on this section of road.

The roadway leading up to the tree in question is not complicated. It’s a straight stretch, with the big old tree near the start of a soft curve westward toward Four Mile Creek Road, a few hundred metres away.

The roadway itself is not to blame, though the addition of warning signs or guard rails might help draw drivers’ attention to the catastrophic consequences of leaving the road. Not speeding also would help.

The real problem is the tree — and it literally is a killer.

With a trunk about one metre wide, it towers over the roadway and stands a few feet from the narrow, paved shoulder.

When a car continues straight, instead of following the curve, it’s a recipe for disaster. And, as it showed again this week, it is deadly.

When we visited the site on Wednesday afternoon, all was quiet, but for cars buzzing past.

We couldn’t miss the prominent memorial, a wreath and condolence cards, attached to the trunk. It commemorates the death of Jennifer Jackson, killed in a similar crash last June 10.

The massive tree stops anything that crosses its path.

A single black-and-orange safety pylon is strapped to the trunk, which is blackened in spots, bark missing, after who knows how many “accidents.”

As resident Scott Gauld observes in our story this week, and our visit confirmed, if the tree wasn’t there, any vehicle that veers off the road would simply end up a soft, marshy, patch of greenery.

“Reduce your speed” warnings, safety signs, guard rails even, might be part of the answer.

But, as Shirley Madsen can attest, there also have been problems a few hundred metres westward — when a car wrecked her front yard.

So, warnings, speed check signs and other measures might be part of the solution.

But the most obvious one to us is also the simplest: the tree has to go. It is a killer, is in a dangerous spot and needs to be taken down ASAP.

We are all for saving trees, but with the location of this roadway, this tree poses a needless hazard.

Cut it down.

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