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Residents give sign prohibiting left turns a failing grade

The sign on Stonegate Drive was installed following a successful motion by Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc during an operations committee meeting in July
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Area residents Agnes Beck and Mary and Richard Brunet are seen at the corner of Beatrice Crescent and Stonegate Drive, where a sign prohibiting left turns has been installed which they oppose.

One little sign is causing quite a stir in the Stonegate Drive neighbourhood. 

A sign prohibiting left turns onto Beatrice Crescent from Stonegate Drive was installed earlier this summer, and a petition is now being organized asking the city to remove it immediately.

The petition’s organizer, Agnes Beck, said she plans on asking either Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc or Mayor Brian Bigger to present it to city council during their Sept. 13 meeting.

“As traffic-calming, it’s not a solution,” she said of the sign. “It does not make sense whatsoever.”

Stonegate Drive is just as viable a road to access area amenities as any other, she said. 

“Added traffic is acceptable, but only if we all share the burden in everyone getting to their destination,” according to her petition. “Installing a no left hand turn signal from Stonegate to Beatrice creates a private street out of a taxpayer-funded road. The decision must be reversed.”

The offending sign came to be as a result of ongoing concerns from area residents regarding traffic volume and speed along Stonegate Drive – a short stretch of road in a residential neighbourhood connecting Attlee Avenue with Beatrice Crescent. 

In May, Leduc brought the issue to a community meeting, for which he hand-delivered invitations to area residents. At the meeting, those in attendance voted on traffic-calming options, and settled on the sign prohibiting left turns.

Leduc consulted with city administration and brought the option to the city’s operations committee on July 11, at which Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyn Landry-Altmann tacked on an amendment that the sign be installed as a one-year pilot project.

The hope, she said, is to see how well the sign works out and to evaluate whether this approach might be suitable for other areas of the city.

The pilot program has only just begun, but some area residents are already classifying it as a failure.

During the approximately 15 minutes Sudbury.com spent at the intersection with area residents on Wednesday, several vehicles were seen turning left at the intersection despite the visible sign prohibiting the turn.

One of the vehicle’s left turn resulted in a southbound vehicle on Beatrice Crescent having to stop, despite not having a stop sign, in order to allow them to proceed. To the turning vehicle’s right was a bank of trees that makes seeing southbound vehicles impossible until they’re midway onto Beatrice Crescent. 

In addition to her criticism of the sign, Beck said Leduc’s public consultation process was lacking, in that only a select few people were invited.

This is a notion Leduc agrees with, explaining that he targeted those directly impacted by traffic volume and speed at that location due to COVID-related concerns limiting the group size he was able to host.

“You can’t bring everyone under one roof during COVID, it’s very unfortunate,” he told Sudbury.com.

Although impacted by the neighbourhood’s overall traffic flow, Beck resides a few blocks away on Beatrice Crescent. 

One area resident who lives on Stonegate Drive and was invited to Leduc’s community meeting told Sudbury.com he appreciates the attention Leduc has brought to the street, but that the sign prohibiting left turns hasn’t resolved things.

“No difference,” said the resident, whose first name is Dan and requested his last name not be used. “People speed through and don’t stop.”

A resident of the street for 21 years, he said traffic concerns have been ongoing and that a speed bump would be the ideal solution.

During the July 11 operations committee meeting, city traffic and asset management supervisor Joe Rocca clarified Stonegate Drive is No. 34 on the city’s list of traffic-calming priority streets. Since the city budgets for one street’s worth of traffic-calming infrastructure per year, it would be 34 years until Stonegate Drive is dealt with.

Approximately 60 per cent of the traffic on Stonegate Drive cuts through the area, Rocca said, including those on their way to the Adanac Ski Hill and area soccer fields. This, rather than proceeding down Attlee Avenue and turning down Beatrice Crescent, Soloy Drive or Hawthorne Drive. 

Leduc said he plans on submitting area residents’ anti-sign petition to city council on Sept. 13 in the event it’s presented to him, as he would with any petition. This, he said, is similar to how he presented some residents’ pro-sign viewpoint to the operations committee in July.

As it stands, the one-year pilot project is being monitored by staff to determine its effectiveness.

The goal, he said, is to make the area safer for area residents.

“Like everybody else, they want to be able to play within their area, and sometimes that means playing on the street, and we want to create a much safer environment for those kids so that we don’t have cars barreling down the road.”

The sign prohibiting left turns is one of many traffic-calming measures city council has moved forward with in recent months, fuelled by safety studies and statistics compiled by city administration.

A 40 km/h speed limit in residential neighbourhoods pilot program is being introduced, automated speed traps could be introduced as early as next year, six red light cameras are currently being tested and will begin issuing tickets soon and traffic-calming bollards are being installed along 10 streets this year.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.