RUSSELL – Residents in the Village of Russell, concerned and frustrated with motorists speeding through their village have approached the Russell Council with the problem and possible solutions.
The Dec. 3 meeting of the council featured a presentation by Debra Bourne of a report from the Stop Speeding in Russell Campaign.
The report stated: “The volume and nature of traffic on Craig Street is a major safety and quality-of-life concern for Russell residents.”
Bourne explained students at the Russell Public School use Craig Street in Russell to arrive at and leave their school. The traffic in the area is heavy and fast.
“This is a major safety concern,” she said.
Bourne said, “Craig Street is a Trucking Route – Heavy truck traffic shakes houses and has raised resident concerns over possible structural damage. Trucks are noisy and are disruptive to the feel of the village. Anecdotally, we have heard that truckers would prefer a route around the village.”
A petition with 79 signatures asking for changes to village speed limits in some areas was also presented to council.
Campaign members have been busy. They have distributed 58 lawn signs and have had many conversations with residents, which has indicated that most people spoken to have a very real concern about motorists speeding through the village.
The group has also had meetings with councillors and municipal staff.
The report stated: “Pedestrian crossing of Craig Street is very difficult and feels dangerous. Many sidewalks are quite close to very fast traffic (North side of Craig between Forced and Parklands). Some sections of Craig lack sidewalks. Many driveways are short and narrow with limited options for maneuvering.
Backing onto Craig Street into the fast traffic is not safe. The road is too narrow for safe cycling in many parts. Official complaints have been lodged with the OPP, but we feel enforcement will not be the answer. Craig Street is under the jurisdiction of the United Counties of Prescott – Russell (UCPR), where Russell is one voice of eight.
The full Stop Speeding in Russell Campaign presentation can be read on the Russell website.
The council was very receptive and sympatric to the presentation.
Bourne said, “We are aware of an official May 2021 speed study that was conducted at “CR-3 (Craig Street) West of Russell” (which we believe is near Tim Hortons). This study counted more than 54,000 vehicles. Eighty-five per cent of vehicles were speeding. The average speed was 62 km/hr, and the 85th percentile speed was 76 km/hr.”
Bourne did not just present complaints to the council. She came with solutions to some of the issues.
She said, “Russell Council should pass a resolution calling on the UCPR to adopt the following changes, and Mayor Leroux should push for these changes at the UCPR table:
- Make Craig Street a 40 km zone permanently (it is currently only during school hours).
- Create a Community Safety Zone along Craig Street. The Highway Traffic Act says, “The council of a municipality may by bylaw, designate a part of a highway under its jurisdiction as a community safety zone, if, in the council’s opinion, public safety is of special concern on that part of the highway.” We believe the presence of the school alone justifies this change. Community safety zones permit increased speeding fines as a deterrent. They are currently being used in the school zone along Concession.
- School Zone Sign on the South Side of Craig Street – The sign is currently difficult to see.
Sign should be relocated to be more visible.
- Photo Radar – UCPR should install photo radar in an effective location along Craig Street.
- 2023 Craig Street Plan:
- Before putting the plan to tender, council should engage in a public consultation.
- Additional traffic calming measures should be added to the plan where possible: bollards, visual reminders, bump outs, visual speeding reminders, sidewalk with curb safety near school, additional pedestrian crosswalk.”
The presentation included several other solutions.
The council was receptive, interested and expressed their intention to follow through on the group’s report.
Councillor Marc Lalonde said, “As someone who lives close to that corner, and I’ve been there for 40 years now, so I’ve gotten to watch the traffic and the growth, all of that take place, and certainly I share a number of the concerns.”
He added, “We should take many of those concerns seriously. I think they are quite legitimate.”
Mayor Pierre Leroux said the matter will probably come back up in January and he wanted staff to look into what the council could and could not do to alleviate some of the group’s concerns.
Joseph Morin is the Editor of the Eastern Ontario AgriNews, and the Record. He is, despite years of practice, determined to eventually play the guitar properly. He has served the Eastern Ontario community as a news editor, and journalist for the past 25 years with the Iroquois Chieftain, Kemptville Advance, West Carleton Review, and Ottawa Carleton Review in Manotick. He has never met a book he did not like.