Cornwall $250K traffic circle study resurrected, quashed by council

Cornwall Coun. Elaine MacDonald makes her case during a city council meeting on Monday, April 23, 2018 to do a study on the Rotary Traffic Circle. The $250,000 study was defeated in an 8-3 vote. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – A quarter million dollar study of the city’s Brookdale Avenue traffic circle – shelved during the budget process – has been defeated in a city council meeting.

Coun. Elaine MacDonald resurrected the issue of conducting the $250,000 environmental assessment (EA) of the circle, which is mandated by the Ontario government if the city wants to make any changes to it.

She wanted the city go to the bank to fund the study.

“People tell me what we have now is good enough. And I just say, I don’t think it is good enough…this is actually an obsolete piece of engineering. This circle was designed to accommodate a bridge that isn’t there anymore.”

The city built the Benson Center on Seventh Street, yet it hasn’t addressed any way for pedestrians and cyclists to get safely across Brookdale Avenue to get to and from the arena, MacDonald said.

Having the study done would make any changes to the circle “shovel ready” – meaning it could qualify for Ontario Connecting Links funding, which could fund changes to the configuration of Brookdale Avenue up to 90 per cent. The idea is to change the traffic circle to a roundabout.

Coun. Claude McIntosh doesn’t buy MacDonald’s suggestions there’s a safety issue with the circle. After speaking with police, McIntosh says Ninth and Brookdale are where the seriously traffic accidents are happening.

Coun. David Murphy didn’t agree with the argument that having a traffic circle and a roundabout in the same city would confuse drivers. “If they’re that easily confused, then we should do away with one-way streets because that can be pretty confusing for somebody new to the city.”

Murphy says the road signs at the traffic circle are “the best it’s ever been.”

According to staff, there are only two traffic circles in Ontario – Cornwall and Hamilton.

The request was eventually defeated 8-3 during Monday night’s council meeting. Those supporting the traffic circle study were councillors Carilyne Hebert, Elaine MacDonald and Bernadette Clement.

Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy voted against it on a technicality – that the city doesn’t take loans for projects under $2.5 million. Though he didn’t rule out exploring it in the future if the city paid for it instead of taking a loan.