A long-awaited pedestrian crossing at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market should be in place by next month.
After years of talks, Woolwich and the Region of Waterloo are finally on the same page, clearing the way for work to begin. The two are now finalizing a formal agreement.
Woolwich has hired an engineering firm to carry out the design of the signalized crossing at Farmers Market and Benjamin roads. The township is responsible for the $110,000 project, and will then pay the region to operate and maintain the crossing.
The signals will be pedestrian-activated, but the crossing will be synced to the lights at the Weber Street intersection, functioning in a manner similar to the crosswalk at King and Albert streets in the village of St. Jacobs, explained Randy Miller of the township’s engineering department.
Once the design is done, Woolwich will hire a contractor to do the preliminary work at the site, including the underground ducting and installation of signal poles. The actual signal arms and lights will be installed by the region.
“I’d like to get this done as soon as we can,” said Miller, suggesting mid-August as a possible target for completion.
Woolwich officials have long expressed concerns about the intersection, where pedestrians mix with vehicular traffic as they make their way to the market and factory outlet mall.
In years past, the market operator paid for a police presence, but discontinued that service. Since the township’s most recent push for a crosswalk, the upper tier municipality has been covering the cost of a paid-duty police officer to direct traffic there.
The region had resisted the township’s call for a crosswalk, citing the location’s close proximity to the Weber Street intersection and calling the signals unwarranted. Now, the two sides have agreed to move ahead, director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley told councillors meeting last week.
“They are no longer opposed to this pedestrian signal,” he said of the region in a later interview.
“It didn’t meet the regional criteria – 200 metres from the intersection – but that’s close enough,” he said of the distance, some 180 metres, citing similar examples elsewhere in the region.
With the region not completely sold on the project, however, the costs will be covered entirely by the township, with the money to come from fees paid by the developer of the SmartCentres power centre.
While council endorsed the project at its June 26 meeting, Coun. Murray Martin expressed concerns that a crosswalk might not deter pedestrians from continuing to cross as they long have.
“I don’t think it’s going to work,” he said, arguing pedestrians would likely continue to jaywalk. “It’s not going to accomplish a whole lot.”
Kennaley noted, however, that the crossing would likely improve the situation at the market.
“It may not be a perfect solution, but I think it will reduce the problem.”