Nik Halkias, owner of County Cycle in Beamsville, points out one of the problems he has with truck traffic in the town.Chris Pickles, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 17, 2022 at 07:50

By Chris Pickles, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

As Beamsville strives to create a pleasant, charming atmosphere in its core, businesses say that truck traffic is creating unwanted noise and dirt, detracting from the character of the town.

For Nik Halkias, owner of County Cycle on King Street, truck traffic has always been an issue. 

Growing up near Mountain Road, his parents were strict about where he could cycle, and he grew up knowing that Mountain was a dangerous road.

“Every part of truck traffic on Mountain is negative,” he said.

And it’s not just Halkias who considers the truck traffic a problem. Jillian D’Archi, studio owner of Yoga Vine, which faces the intersection of Mountain and King, also said it’s a major issue.

“They don’t fit, both physically and metaphorically,” she said.

Due to the size of the junction at King Street and Mountain Road, large trucks are often forced to turn into the oncoming lane.

Truck traffic is top of mind for both business owners and community members in the downtown area, according to Beamsville BIA executive director Stephanie Hicks. She said it is the No. 1 complaint heard by the BIA.

Beamsville has worked hard to create an attractive and vibrant ambience downtown. “It’s up and coming,” as D’Archi puts it. And there are concerns that trucks detract from the town’s vibe.

“The trucks are loud, constant and not only make the outdoor pedestrian experience of sitting on a bench, or chatting on a patio interrupted every three minutes, it is also very dusty and dirty at times, and standstills the traffic when there are multiple large trucks between traffic lights,” said Hicks.

In 2014, the Town of Lincoln identified truck traffic as a problem, and staff started examining the issue.

In April 2019, council approved a resolution regarding truck safety in Lincoln, prioritizing truck traffic safety strategies, responding to resident concerns about road safety.

In the long term, it’s hoped that a new escarpment crossing in Grimsby could provide the answer, extending Bartlett Avenue and providing direct access from the QEW to Park Road.

Both the mayor, Sandra Easton, and town’s chief administrative officer, Michael Kirkopoulos, have recognized the town cannot wait until the crossing is finished and indicated they want to tackle truck traffic now.

To that end, the town is attempting to direct trucks away from the downtown core, having trucks avoid Ontario Street and King Street between Mountain Road and Durham Road, and instead have them take Bartlett Road to the east of town, and Durham Road to the west.

The town is also working with the Ontario Provincial Police, Ministry of Transportation and Niagara Regional Police Service to clamp down on trucks avoiding the inspection station on the westbound QEW between Vineland and Beamsville.

Lincoln’s director of public works, Dave Graham, said they suspect that trucks often avoid the inspection station to save time, because they may be overloaded or have a defect, or their licensing might be outdated.

So, they leave the QEW and use local and regional roads to dodge the inspection station before rejoining the QEW.

The partnership sees patrol cars stationed around the area, redirecting trucks suspected as avoiding the inspection station.

During one road safety blitz in June, officials stopped 58 vehicles and laid eight charges. In July, five vehicles were directed to the inspection station and 17 charges were laid. During one blitz in October 2021, 38 per cent of the vehicles inspected were placed out of service.

“The objective is to get the word out to the trucking industry that it’s not worth doing,” said Graham.

And, as Halkias surveyed the intersection between King and Mountain on Aug. 10, he noticed that there were indeed fewer trucks than normal and gave credit to the town for acting.

But Halkias and D’Archi consider the short-term solutions as bandages rather than permanent fixes.

“They’re slapping Band-Aids on something that needs a permanent fix,” said Halkias. “I want to see a solution, then I want to brag about my town.

“If I’d run for mayor,” he said, “my campaign would be to abolish the trucks. And I’d win.”

This item reprinted from the Grimsby Lincoln News, Grimsby, Ontario