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HomeNewsFive Options Presented For The Fenelon Falls Second Crossing Project

Five Options Presented For The Fenelon Falls Second Crossing Project

KAWARTHA LAKES – At a recent public meeting, various recommendations and findings were revealed for the Fenelon Falls Second crossing project.

The municipality of Kawartha Lakes is in partnership with the project’s consultant, Dillon Consulting and officials say the purpose of this meeting was to inform seasonal and full-time residents, within the areas of potential impact. Areas of potential impact include the Town of Fenelon Falls, the community of Baddow along Concession Road 3 and along the Burnt River near Concession Road 3.

Roughly 15,000 vehicles per day travel through Fenelon Falls in the summer months and often, long vehicle delays occur during peak traffic hours along the bridge and at the intersection of Helen Street and Lindsay Street.

The options being considered to address traffic through Fenelon Falls include: in-town intersection design improvements, a second bridge crossing located in-town to the east of the existing bridge, a new by-pass around Fenelon Falls that would require a new bridge over the Burnt River at Concession Road 3, or the expansion of the existing Colborne Street bridge crossing in-town.

According to Merrilees Willemse, Environmental Planner, Dillon Consulting, congestion and traffic delays that occur downtown Fenelon Falls is the main cause for concern. The Helen and Lindsay Street intersection at the south end of the bridge is projected to be at capacity by 2031, she noted.

“This also effects the main street experience, businesses and has caused challenges for parking and land use,” she said.

Willemse noted that the core issues are traffic volume, the number of vehicles coming through and the increase of vehicles in peak periods, primarily, between May and September. The Helen and Lindsay Street intersection is the key area that causes a bottle neck especially due to limited alternative roots that exist in the area, she added.

Key problems include:

  • Congestion and traffic delays
  • Bridge back-up
  • Helen and Lindsay Street intersection at capacity by 2031
  • Main street experience
  • Business impacts and parking
  • Traffic and land use, e.g., Tim Hortons, Sobeys

Key opportunities include:

  • Reduce delays and traffic congestion
  • Improve main street experience
  • Improve connectivity
  • Support Downtown Revitalization Plan
  • Improve relationship between land use and transportation

According to Willemse, the Tim Hortons, Sobeys, and the gas station cause traffic flow issues at the intersection. Officials say the largest contributor to traffic issues is the southbound left turn into the Sobeys and Tim Hortons lots.

To add further congestion, there is not enough storage for vehicles waiting to turn which causes significant queues, particularly the southbound left turns which affects the bridge.

The gas station access on the west side of Lindsay St. also causes additional delays from the northbound left turns.

Through this investigative process, the team has examined transportation and traffic studies, updated traffic data analysis on a local and regional level by using streetlight data and intersection traffic cameras, environmental conditions such as aquatic and terrestrial, woodlands, wetlands and waterbodies, socio-economic conditions such as properties, people and businesses, cultural heritage and archaeology, technical design engineering, topography, property, utilities, road and bridge design.

“Through this process, we look at all options, we always first look at, do nothing, continue the way things are, it is an option, it’s still on the table, we are not at a point to make a final recommendation,” said Willemse.

Options to consider:

  • Do Nothing
  • Improve local traffic operations
  • Expand existing bridge
  • Build second in-town crossing
  • Build a bypass: 3rd Concession Baddow

The team also looked at street light data which uses GPS and cell phone data, enabling them to understand travel patterns and automobiles that cross the Fenelon Falls bridge. The traffic was examined during all days of the week and during summer peak season.

“We found that most vehicles trips that use the bridge originate from within a relatively local area, around sturgeon and Cameron lake,” she said. “Initial perception was that a lot of those vehicles were coming from the GTA causing the problems, that’s one component but there is a large amount of traffic generated that is local, and that makes sense. There is not a lot of other options to be using when people are moving around the area.”

According to Willemse, for vehicles crossing the bridge, over 70 per cent are occurring within City of Kawartha Lakes, CKL, up to 20 per cent are between CKL and external areas, 35-39 per cent of trips travel from north to south and south to north and 47-51 per cent of trips are between areas south of the bridge.

“This tells us we need to address some of the traffic operation issues in town with local generated traffic that is contributing to the traffic, support for some in town improvements with traffic diversions,” she said. “Approximately 20-30 per cent of traffic could be diverted around town, approximately 40-50 per cent of traffic could be diverted on a second in town bridge crossing.”

During the presentation, officials reiterated that land use and traffic operations at the intersection of Helen and Lindsay Streets continues to cause the primary issue. And as Sobeys and Tim Hortons are expected to remain for the foreseeable future, rethinking how site access is provided and management of turning movements would offer traffic improvements immediately.

The traffic improvement options for the Helen Street and Lindsay Street intersection examined were, signal changes by optimizing signals and by providing new left turn signals, access control for Tim Hortons, Sobeys and the local gas station, create additional capacity with extended storage lanes, restrict movements by limiting turning movements and the potential to explore relocating some land uses to improve traffic flow and access.

In town improvement recommendations step 1:

  • Change the Sobeys, Tim Hortons access via Lindsay Street to become northbound Right-in and Right-out only.
  • Remove the ability for southbound traffic on the bridge to turn left into the Sobeys, Tim Hortons access on Lindsay Street.
  • Remove the ability for vehicles to access the Sobeys, Tim Hortons by driving straight through the intersection from Helen Street.
  • Remove the ability for traffic to drive straight out of the Sobeys, Tim Hortons access onto Helen Street.
  • Remove the ability for traffic to turn left out of the Sobeys, Tim Hortons access onto Lindsay Street.

Step 2:

  • Put in a new light at Elliot Street.
  • Traffic from Helen Street and southbound on the bridge will now use Elliot Street to access the Sobeys, Tim Hortons.
  • Lights at Elliot Street and at Helen Street will need to be coordinated for optimal traffic flow.

Step 3:

  • To exist the Sobeys, Tim Hortons vehicles use, the Lindsay Street exit to go north over the bridge.
  • Elliot Street to go west on Helen Street or south on Lindsay Street.

According to Ian Borsuk, B.Eng.,P.Eng. Associate/Office Manager for Dillon Consulting, there should be two southbound lanes that will get vehicles through the intersection at Helen Street and Lindsay Street with less green-time, allowing for more green-time to be given for the eastbound left turns from Helen Street north onto the bridge.

Southbound left turns are better accommodated at Elliot Street with fewer conflicts and less impact on other turning movements at Helen Street and Lindsay Street, he noted.

These changes will also require improvements to Elliot Street, he said. Tim Hortons and or Sobeys would need to acquire additional adjacent property for a new entrance on Elliot Street. There is also potential to examine a future Elliot Street extension.

The team also looked into a new in-town bridge crossing. This new development would require new road connections on both sides of the waterway, likely require two bridges due to grades and elevation of Francis, create multiple impacts to properties, environment and existing communities. This option would come with the highest price tag of up to 20 million but would also provide the greatest relief of the existing traffic concerns.

According to Willemse, this option is not recommended as an immediate solution as the need does not justify the scale of the solution. It may be recommended in the future as growth is confirmed, she said.

Bypass crossing considerations:

  • Connecting Hwy 35 to 121 north of Rosedale
  • Existing connections are not direct and are not currently suitable as haul routes
  • Haul Route identification:
    • 3rd Concession with new bridge previously identified in Aggregate Haul Route Study (2006)
    • Looked at existing and new routes
  • There are options to increase signage to direct bypass traffic to existing routes
  • Interim recommendation could include improving signage to access Mitchells Bridge on Northline

Bypass summary:

  • Multiple impacts to properties, environment and existing communities
  • Requires study on upgrades needed for existing roads, property requirements, maintaining ATV connection, boat launch, and environmental impacts
  • Requires further review of bridge design considerations
  • Mid-level cost compared to other options, approximately 6-9 million dollars
  • Relief to existing traffic concerns, particularly trucks
  • Would redirect 20 per cent of traffic around town

The bypass option has presented various issues that will need further studying before any recommendations are made such as property impacts, natural environment: Burnt River, wildlife habitat, noise, air quality, the entirety of the 3rd Concession and properties along Burnt River, boating, road connections and more according to the consultant.

Final recommendations:

  • Further study of the Bypass Solution to assess impacts and bridge options
  • Assess bypass impacts in more detail and consider design requirements
  • Currently not a recommendation to build the bypass. Further work required.
  • Implement traffic improvements for Helen Street, Lindsay Street and Elliot Street
  • Monitor traffic once these improvements are made before implementation of other solutions
  • Complete existing bridge rehabilitation and improve the pedestrian connections
  • Work with Tim Hortons on drive-through traffic issues and potential options for on-site improvements, access improvements or overall relocation.
  • Continue to monitor growth in Fenelon Falls that would support the need for a second bridge in-town. Consider/study long term impacts of COVID on population growth and travel patterns.
  • Review signage for Mitchells Bridge (Northline) Route.

“We have heard absolutely mixed support for all solutions and a wide range of opinions,” said Willemse. “This is a challenging project, as I said before there is no solution that has no impact on anyone.”

Questions and comments can be submitted by June 15, 2021 to:

Martin Sadowski
Sr. Engineering Technician
City of Kawartha Lakes
[email protected]

Or

Merrilees Willemse
Environmental Planner
Dillon Consulting
Email: [email protected]

Officials will post FAQ on the project website based on the questions received by July 15, 2021. A summary report will be given to Council and recommendations and direction will be confirmed by Council.

For more information visit kawarthalakes.ca.

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Jennifer Walker
Jennifer decided to study journalism after having a life long passion for writing. She began her career as a reporter for the Uxbridge Times Journal and moved on to freelance work for various publications after her and her husband welcomed their daughters. She has been published in various Durham Region newspapers, the Durham Parent Magazine as well as Equine Wellness. Jennifer continues to follow her dreams as a wife, mother and journalist and is so excited to join the team at Kawartha411.

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