by George Naylor, Caledonia

In a classic example of the tail wagging the dog, Haldimand Council has approved an arterial road that they believe will prevent traffic congestion, and provide an alternative route that will encourage commuters to stop using Argyle St and the bridge for any northbound driving.  This new arterial road will require expropriation of privately owned land to connect to Plank Rd at the intersection of 6th Line.  I assume that this intersection will require a new stop light, because at times, there is a substantial amount of  traffic at this intersection.

Let’s examine this ludicrous idea.  This is Haldimand Council’s brain-storm for solving the unavoidable traffic issues caused by the addition of 700 households in Beattie Estates.  This traffic problem is inevitable, because Beattie Estates will increase the number of households, and the number of cars in Caledonia south of the river by about 20%.

Haldimand Council’s proposal would have Caledonia residents on the south side of the Grand River travel south on this new arterial road, make a left at the intersection of Plank Rd and 6th Line, travel south on Plank, make a right turn at the Hwy 6/Bypass stoplight, drive north on the bypass, merge right onto Greens Rd, then make a left turn at the advanced green stoplight at Hwy 6.  The vast majority of Caledonia residents need to travel north for work, shopping or recreation. This is council’s plan to  discourage residents from crossing the bridge in the traditional manner?

I did a driving test of these comparative routes,  at 2:30 PM on a Tuesday, in good weather,  and observed the speed limit on all roads.  I drove the proposed arterial route in the reverse of expected driving patterns.  I went south,  starting just north of the bypass on Hwy 6.  Because there’s no arterial road yet, I turned right  off Plank Rd. at Celtic Drive, made a left at Caledonia Drive to arrive at the intersection of McKenzie Rd.

The results of this test?  I traveled  a distance of almost exactly 10 kms, and it took almost exactly 10 minutes, and I can state that I encountered no stoppages, slowdowns or red lights.  The new arterial road may make this drive slightly shorter, depending on the exact route.

From the intersection of Caledonia Drive and McKenzie Rd, I re-set my odometer and my watch to zero, and from that starting point, I drove north on Mackenzie to Argyle St and crossed the bridge.  I had to stop for red lights at both Caithness St. and Orkney St., then finally made it to the same spot on Hwy 6, just north of the bypass.

The results of this trip?  It was an exhausting trip of six minutes, at an incredible distance of 4 kms.  I would venture a guess that with the increased  traffic  that accompanies 700 new homes in south Caledonia, this Argyle St Bridge trip would take longer, but I would also propose that a northbound trip on the arterial/bypass route would take much longer as well, especially in rush-hour, and here’s why.

Assuming decent traffic flow on the rest of the new arterial route, commuters will still be forced to make a left turn at the advanced green light at Greens Rd and Hwy 6!  During rush hour with this increased traffic, it could take three or more light cycles before you actually get on 6 north, and this inevitable wait will encourage much grumbling and cursing, and there are still the trucks to contend with!  – the  big reason for the bypass in the first place!

Does this arterial road proposal make sense to you?  I know that Haldimand Council dismissed the McClung Rd. bridge as an alternative option.  Why didn’t council try to get a financial commitment from the developer to help out with the cost of a bridge as a condition of approval for the Beattie Estates development?

I guess it’s reasonable to assume that if  Haldimand Council doesn’t have the nerve to  ask the developer to contribute part of their valuable development land to build an arterial road, they wouldn’t  ask developers  for a contribution to  help finance a badly needed second bridge at McClung Rd either?  Council has stated a bridge would cost an estimated $26.5 million, and insists that this cost will be the responsibility of Haldimand County’s taxpayers, because there is no provable need for a second bridge.

Counsellor Craig Grice has stated, “the new arterial road would cost the county $8.3 million, but this cost would be recovered through future development charges paid by the developers.”  Why wouldn’t this same logic apply to a bridge?

The next hidden cost of this decision will happen with the recognition of the huge traffic bottleneck created by asking rush-hour commuters to make a left turn onto Hwy 6 north.  A solution for this nightmare traffic $$$$ problem?  An overpass, (insert bridge here) on Greens Rd.,  with a cloverleaf merging onto 6 north.

Subtract these very real costs from the estimated cost of a new bridge at McClung Rd., and this alternative starts to look like a bargain.  Sadly with the twisted logic of the present Haldimand Council, and their desire to cater to developers without any hindrance, this idea looks like it is just a “Bridge Too Far!”