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Speed limit to drop on Chilligo Road

The speed limit on Chilligo Road running through the township is set to drop to 70 km/h, as Woolwich responds to residents’ safety concerns.

Also in the works are new lane markings and signage to prompt drivers to slow down. Traffic-calming measures such as an all-way stop and speed humps were considered but ultimately rejected in a planning staff report approved Tuesday night by councillors.

The decision follows last fall’s petition by Chilligo Road residents for action on speeding and dangerous passing incidents, the result of commuters discovering the route had been paved. Once a gravel road, it has become a favourite for drivers seeking a shortcut between Cambridge and Guelph.

Director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley’s recommendation called for the speed limit to be lowered to 70 km/h from 80 on a stretch of Chilligo Road between the Woolwich-Guelph Townline and 550 metres north of Lerch Road. However, Mayor Bill Strauss’s call for the reduced speed on the entire length that passes through Woolwich was quickly backed by other councillors.

Kennaley noted initial studies showed there was no technical reason for including all of Chilligo Road, as most of the accidents had taken place on the northern portion, but subsequent traffic monitoring showed speeding to be a problem.

Monitoring done in November showed drivers had an average speed of 84.5 km/h, but the benchmark 85th percentile rate (the speed that separates the bottom 85 per cent of vehicle speeds from the top 15 per cent) was 98.6 km/h – 15 per cent of drivers were travelling above that speed, he reported.

Because drivers have the perception that staying within 20 km/h of the speed limit will help them avoid tickets, lowering the speed limit to 70 km/h should in essence produce slower speeding, Kennaley added.

Coun. Mark Bauman suggested dropping the speed limit to 70 km/h will mean drivers would start losing demerit points at 85 km/h, perhaps prompting them to slow down from those higher rates of speed recorded during traffic studies.

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