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Residents looking for improvements to St. Clements intersection

Another collision has St. Clements residents pushing for improvements at a dangerous intersection. Where Waterloo Region officials are proposing a four-way stop, they’re looking for a roundabout at Herrgott Road and Ament Line.

The issue is to be discussed next week at regional council. The community will have the chance to give their thoughts on what should be done.

Wellesley Mayor Joe Nowak took the issue to regional council earlier this year after St. Clements resident Butch Voisin brought a petition to the township in May asking regional engineers to find a solution for the intersection.

Just last week there was a two-vehicle collision at the intersection. According to Waterloo Regional Police there have been five collisions there so far this year.

Both Nowak and Voisin are in favour of installing a roundabout. As it stands, the intersection is a two-way stop, with a flashing red light and a decreased speed limit.

“The region has tried so many things over the years. Each one has just been this incremental thing that they keep trying and none of it seems to work. They tried the rumble strips, that was shortly after the [Emma] Ringrose fatality and that didn’t work. They’ve tried flashing beacons, they’ve tried bigger stop signs. Nothing seems to work. I think it’s very safe to say a roundabout is still the safest and best option, not the cheapest, but the safest,” Nowak said.

The collision last week actually took out the memorial cross placed there in memory of Emma, who died in a car accident there when she was just five years old.

The Ringrose family was at council in May in support of Voisin’s petition. They also brought a petition of 2,000 signatures to council after the accident. That’s when the red flashing light and rumble strips were installed. But the collisions continue.

The issue was supposed to come to regional council two weeks ago but Nowak says he was told they were holding off on the report because they wanted to make sure the numbers were accurate. They updated him last week and said they’d be recommending a four-way stop as part of a pilot program, which will be done at a total of four rural intersections.

“The region has indicated that the projection of fatalities with a roundabout over the next 20 years is zero. Basically they’re saying that a roundabout is the safest when it comes to looking at fatalities. And I’ve been told that by regional staff time and time again,” Nowak said.

Nowak says they told him it will cost about $2,500 to install a four-way stop, compared to $750,000 for a roundabout.

“The challenge for me as a regional councilor will be to convince council to spend the money. It really boils down to the money,” Nowak said.

After briefly discussing the idea of a four-way stop with township staff, Nowak says they have some serious concerns. Because the road dips down into the intersection from south and north on Herrgott, staff are concerned with the sight lines. Nowak also wonders how a transport truck will come to a complete stop after coming over the incline so quickly.

The region has to advise the public whenever they’re considering installing a four-way stop. There will be some sort of notification posted at the intersection letting residents know how to provide their comments and suggestions on the idea to the region.

“The big concern with this process is that there’s a lot of folks who drive through that intersection that may not necessarily be comfortable going to a website to fill out a survey and I worry about the accuracy of that sort of a process,” Nowak said.

He’s encouraging all residents to let their voices be heard about the issue.

While he hesitates to make this a rural versus urban issue he notes how common roundabouts are in the cities and says this is a rural issue requiring a rural solution.

Voisin agrees he’s “not particularly in favour” of a four-way stop. Having seen accident after accident there, he’s had plenty of time to think about it and he’d support a roundabout due to the low number of fatalities at roundabouts.

“The other concern I’ve got too is for the volunteer firefighters that are out here. They respond to major collisions at that intersection. There’s a good chance that they know somebody in the collision or know a relative or a neighbour or a friend. It affects them as well,” Voisin said.

He’s in the planning stages of how best to convince regional council, whether that’s another petition or something else.

“It’s a major concern out here. I know a lot of people in this community and Linwood, Hawkesville, everybody’s concerned about the intersection. It’s almost to the point that people avoid going that way just for the fear of it,” Voisin said.

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