Haist Street residents say chuck the chicane

AFTER YOU, SIR. WHY NO, AFTER YOU. Haist Street residents and local drivers cite duplicate yield signs as a source of confusion. Top photo, the view headed north. Bottom photo, the view headed south, toward Hwy 20. When cars approach from both directions at once, a standoff ensues.  BOB LOBLAW PHOTOS


First its installation was bungled by the contractor, according to the Town of Pelham, and now some residents near it say they want it gone.

Residents on Haist Street north of Highway 20 have been raising concerns about the new traffic calming measure since it appeared—and was rebuilt due to construction errors—last November. Meant to slow drivers and improve public safety, the chicane was placed in its current location following various studies conducted by the Town between 2013 and 2016.

Although the idea for the chicane came from the Town’s response to a petition brought to Council by concerned residents living in the Haist Street area in 2013, some residents say that it’s the wrong solution.

Oscar Weiland is one of them. Frustrated by the design, Weiland visited 21 homes in the neighbourhood to get a sense of public opinion regarding the chicane. Weiland said of the 21 neighbours he spoke with 18 expressed their opposition to the traffic calming measure chosen by the Town.

“All the residents on Haist Street north are affected by this ridiculous, stupid, non-functional, ugly, dangerous contraption in the middle of the road,” said Weiland.

Another reason Weiland opposes the chicane is that he asserts it will negatively impact homeowners moving into nearby subdivisions now under construction. He said it will also disrupt the commute for drivers taking the back roads to St. Catharines and other points north.

“Reducing a well-traveled two lane road into a narrow pass through one-way-at-a-time is confusing and extremely dangerous,” he said.

“Disrupting two-lane traffic flow is not an acceptable solution to the problem. It is also a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

Residents also point to the yield signs on both sides of the chicane as causing unnecessary confusion when vehicles simultaneously approach from north and south.

Other residents in the area have stated that they would rather have speed bumps as a traffic calming measure, such as those found heading down the hill on Haist, south of Highway 20. Director of Public Works, Andrea Clemencio, explained that research by the Town found that speed humps were problematic on the south side of Haist because drivers tend to speed between the humps.

The study also revealed that cars have been damaged by the speed bumps and that they are especially troublesome for emergency vehicles and patient transfer.

Clemencio said that while the Town has received a few complaints about the chicane, she had yet to hear of anyone who wanted it to be removed. She said there have been more people expressing their thanks to the town for taking public safety seriously. Clemencio asserted that many individuals have told her that they feel safer and that the effect of the chicane was noticeable.

“We do see an improvement in the speeds, and will be conducting a quantitative study when the snow season is over — since snow [and] ice affects our measurement technology,” she said.

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