By Mike Pearson, News staff
Development is steadily ramping up, but for now the Fruitland area of Stoney Creek still lacks many urban safety features like sidewalks, crosswalks and crossing guards.
That could soon change.
Residents of the Barton Street and McNeilly Road area say aggressive driving and speeding are adding to the safety concerns their families face on a daily basis.
To combat the issue, residents are working with Ward 11 councillor Brenda Johnson to install a four-way stop sign at the corner of Barton and McNeilly. The intersection is currently controlled by a two-way stop on McNeilly, but area homeowners are pressing for an upgrade. In the meantime, residents have created homemade signs asking drivers to slow down.
Speaking from her table at the Binbrook Fair last weekend, Johnson said she plans to ask her colleagues on the city’s public works committee to support a four-way stop sign and pedestrian safety markings.
Johnson is confident that other committee members will vote in favour of the proposal.
“It’s a slam dunk,” she said.
Tom Goodwin, a 39-year resident of the area, said at least five serious accidents have occurred at the intersection since 2009. The most serious incident took place on Good Friday of 2012, when a motorcyclist struck a pole in front of Goodwin’s home. The motorcyclist was killed, and the impact of the collision sent the vehicle’s battery flying 40 metres onto Goodwin’s front lawn. The most recent accident at the corner occurred about three weeks ago when two minivans collided. One vehicle ended up on a homeowner’s front lawn, not far from children at play.
Goodwin’s neighbour Jason Nisbet estimates the average speed of traffic at 80 km-h, despite the posted 60-km limit. Problems intensify after dark, when vehicles routinely reach speeds of 100 km-h.
Nisbet sees the combination of speed and aggresive driving as a tragedy waiting to happen.
“If there’s kids playing there, they’re done,” he said. “It’s just a recipe for disaster.”
There are currently no impediments to traffic on Barton Street between Fruitland Road and Lewis Road, a distance of more than three kilometres. Nisbet said drivers use the route as a convenient alternative to Highway 8.
Nisbet estimates 20 children live within a five house radius on either side of McNeilly Road, including Nisbet’s special needs son, Noah. On one occasion, an impatient driver honked her horn at Noah’s handicapped equipped school bus while the vehicle was dropping off students.
Goodwin said police speed enforcement has been spotty at best. He’s noticed police patrolling Highway 8 but almost never on Barton.
“They could make their whole month’s quota in just two hours here,” said Elizabeth Mitchell, another area resident.
Martin White, city manager of traffic operations, was not available for comment.
According to information on the city’s traffic operations and engineering web page, all-way stop signs are the most frequently requested traffic-calming features. The website states a stop sign is designed to assign right-of-way at an intersection. A stop sign isn’t installed to reduce speeding and may in fact have the opposite effect, the city warns.