Original Published on Sep 10, 2022 at 09:14
Drivers worry about safety of new Ontario QEW interchange
By Somer Slobodian, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
But transportation ministry official says, ‘It’s going to operate like any other interchange. You follow the lanes, you follow the signs’
Some call it dangerous, confusing and an accident waiting to happen, but Ontario’s first diverging diamond interchange will open to drivers later this month – and be a safer alternative for drivers, one of its proponents says.
St. Davids resident Mike Cooper isn’t sold on the idea.
“That is going to be the (most) dangerous thing ever,” he said at an information session Wednesday afternoon about the new QEW interchange for Niagara-on-the-Lake.
His wife, Karen Cooper, had her concerns, too. But people need to keep up with the times, she said.
The new Glendale exit will be the third diverging diamond interchange in Canada, along with ones in Calgary and Regina.
The interchange is supposed to increase safety with fewer conflict points – potential crash sites – and increase efficiency with fewer traffic signals.
It’s also supposed to reduce traffic speed, enhance mobility for both pedestrians and vehicles and be easy to navigate.
The project cost almost $54 million, said Andrew Bernard, who works for Brennan Paving, the company responsible for overall project management and construction.
“It’s supposed to be safer because you’re basically eliminating the chance of somebody making a left turn,” he said at the session held at the Hilton Garden Inn on York Road.
Darlene Huybers is worried about accidentally going the wrong way. However, the information session helped answer some of her questions, she said.
At the session, signage featured diagrams and information to help people better understand the new interchange.
There was also a video playing, with first-person point-of-view so people could get a better feel for how the new road will work.
One of the viewers was more than a little concerned as she watched the video.
“It’s very confusing,” said Anne Cruse, who lives right down the street from the new interchange.
“There’s going to be a lot of accidents,” she said.
There have been a lot of meetings regarding signage, lighting and street lights, one of Brennan’s employees said at the session.
The interchange will partially open on Sept. 26 and be fully operational in November.
Later this fall, to enable construction, the QEW’s Niagara-bound off ramp at Glendale will be closed for 60 days. Traffic will exit at Mountain Road or take alternate routes.
Installation of a roundabout at York Road, landscaping, final paving and site cleanup won’t be done until spring 2023. By next summer, construction should be completed.
“Once it’s up and running, and you drive it, we’re gonna have the lane markings, the signage, (and) the lights,” said Jason Lee, a contract services administrator for the Ministry of Transportation.
“It’s going to operate like any other interchange. You follow the lanes, you follow the signs,” he added.
With the new interchange, traffic on Glendale Avenue will diverge to the left side of the road through two crossover intersections, the Region of Niagara says on its website.
This enables left-turning traffic to access the QEW without waiting for signals or crossing other traffic.