Region pushing ahead with controversial St. Davids roundabout
October 6, 2023 | By Evan Loree
Despite objection from residents, the region is moving forward with plans to build a roundabout in the heart of the St. Davids village.
Frank Tassone, the region’s associate director of transportation engineering, gave the Niagara-on-the-Lake council on Sept. 26 an overview of the region’s future road maintenance projects – which is set to include the proposed roundabout.
It will replace a four-way stop at the intersection of Four Mile Creek and York roads.
“We really want this to be a focal point of the village,” Tassone said.
Coun. Adriana Vizzari said it was “confusing and frustrating” to hear that the region wants to make the intersection _ specifically, the new roundabout – St. Davids’ centre of attention.
“I don’t know how a roundabout would be a focal point for a village,” she said.
Some St. Davids residents are also upset about it.
Dan Segal, president of the St. Davids Ratepayers Association, told The Lake Report the point of a roundabout was “getting people from point A to point B as quickly as possible.”
“As somebody who lives in St. Davids, that’s really not my priority,” he said.
Segal wants a solution that could enhance the village’s walkability and help drive patrons to some of the area businesses near the intersection.
One potential solution, he said, could be to use Concession 6 as a bypass for the traffic now going through his village.
John Gartner, a resident and former planner, told The Lake Report the region has never properly investigated alternative solutions to the roundabout.
The amount of work needed to investigate a solution like a bypass might be sufficient enough that the region would rather not do it, he said.
“In my estimation, there has been a serious significant bias towards the roundabout,” he said.
Gartner said he is concerned the region is already spending money on a design without knowing that it could actually work.
He worried the roundabout “would make a mess with that area.”
Gartner said he hasn’t met any residents who support the roundabout.
He did not doubt that it has supporters, but he speculated that they live in the new subdivisions and mostly pass through the intersection on their way out of St. Davids.
Coun. Sandra O’Connor was also “disappointed” to hear the roundabout is moving forward.
She said the town previously sent the region two letters outlining its concerns about the project and had not received responses.
“I don’t feel the region has given our concerns due consideration,” she said. “I think this is being viewed totally as a traffic movement project.”
O’Connor also said the region’s choice to exclude St. Davids Public School in its study of the area was a “serious omission” given it was shown in Tassone’s slide show to be within the affected area.
Tassone said the school is near a separate project that did not require the same amount of research.
The project, repaving York Road from Four Mile Creek to Queenston roads, was mostly maintenance, he said.
The region did not, therefore, include the school in its analysis of the road infrastructure.
Segal said the region’s analysis was “narrow-focused.”
In its study of the intersection and its impacts, the region concluded that it meets all the criteria for a roundabout, Tassone said.
Despite the project moving forward, Segal said he and his neighbours are still trying to “make lemonade out of lemons.”
He thinks the region will reach a “major decision point” when the final cost of the project come out.
“Whatever ends up happening, we still want to have a voice,” Segal said.
Vizzari said there is an “immediate need” for sidewalks going down Four Mile Creek toward the Cannery Park subdivision.
Tassone said these would likely be added with the roundabout.
In the meantime, he said the region could include a pedestrian crosswalk at the bottom of the Four Mile Creek hill to help people cross the street safely.
But Vizzari said a crosswalk doesn’t solve the fact that walkers do not have sidewalks to get them up the hill safely.
Tassone said the safety concerns on Four Mile Creek can’t be fixed “without a full road reconstruction.”
That reconstruction, he said, would need to be part of the region’s capital budgeting over the next six to 10 years.
In the meantime, he said the region is planning some short-term solutions to the safety concerns raised by Vizzari.
Evan Loree, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, THE LAKE REPORT