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Bay Roberts council tackles traffic snarls

By Mark Squibb | Aug. 27, 2020

If you’ve ever driven through the Country Road and CB Highway intersection in Bay Roberts, you know it’s a tangly intersection.

From the west, drivers coming off Country Road are trying to connect to the main highway. Traffic incoming from Water Street is also looking for an inroad. Meanwhile, outgoing traffic from numerous businesses are all trying to merge onto the road at the same time.

Oftentimes, traffic from Country Road will cut through the Powell’s Supermarket parking lot to avoid the messy intersection — so often that in recent months council had erected signage at the Powell’s entrance forbidding thru traffic; This, in addition to a “No Left Turn” sign erected some years back where Sawdust Road (itself an offshoot of Country Road) meets the main highway.

Both areas were the subject of a recent letter to council.

“We agreed with them to a certain extent, and took it upon ourselves to consult with the RCMP for their stance on both the traffic at Sawdust Road and the intersection of Country Road and CB Highway and the Powell’s business,” explained Town CAO Nigel Black.

“They didn’t feel that the ‘No Left Turn’ signage at Sawdust Road was really warranted, and in their opinion, that intersection is no more concerning as any other location along that stretch of highway. Granted, they all have concerns, but they didn’t feel that one was any worse than the rest of them,” said Black. “And, on the other end of it, at the business where we had previously put up a sign saying ‘No Thru Traffic,’ they felt that that was not enforceable, and that we (should) eliminate that, because they wouldn’t be able to give out any ticket, and we are not able to give out any tickets. We agreed as a short-term solution that we make those two moves, and as a long-term solution we use, potentially, gas tax funding for a project or two projects to improve the intersection at CB Highway, Water Street, and Country Road, and also CB Highway and Sawdust Road, because they both need work.”

Councillor Dean Franey said he has always felt the intersection of Sawdust and CB Highway would be a perfect spot for a set of traffic lights, agreeing the lights would also serve to slow down traffic along the CB Highway and give pedestrians another crossing option.

Other councillors noted that traffic coming off of business parking lots and making left hand turns onto the CB Highway likely exceeds the amount of traffic coming off Sawdust Road. Councillor Geoff Seymour said that, with the exception of Hope Avenue, there were no other roads from which to make left hand turns onto the CB Highway, so he felt like the ‘No Left Turn’ signage should stay.

“It’s not like there’s a dozen streets there and we only put the signage at one,” said Seymour.

Deputy Mayor Walter Yetman said he was in support of the decision to erect the ‘No left Turn’ signage some years back, but he’s since had second thoughts.

“After reviving it in the last year or so, I’ve seen that a lot of people who want to get to Dominion, or Tim Hortons, can’t get there,” Yetman explained. “Or even to get to Spaniard’s Bay, for example, you can’t get to Spaniard’s Bay from Sawdust Road.”

Seymour, however, argued the road was safer with the ‘No Left Turn’ sign, and that safety trumps convenience.

Councillor Frank Deering added that since the sign has been put there, he hasn’t heard of any accidents at that particular intersection. “And I can tell you, there was one a month there before,” he said.

Councillor Silas Babcock said he himself was almost T-boned at the busy Country Road intersection.

Mayor Phillip Wood inquired about having a traffic study done before making a decision as to signage. CAO Black noted the Town has had studies done in recent years.

“We’ve done two traffic studies on the highway. The first did not recommend an intersection at Sawdust Road. It did recommend a crosswalk in the area of the Beaver Plaza, and a couple of other locations,” said Black, who added that a second study also did not recommend an intersection at Sawdust Road.

“Personally, I think you need either something in the Beaver Plaza or Sawdust Road area, but that’s not what the traffic study said, and they’re the experts,” said Black, whose observation was met with light chuckles.

In the end, council agreed to remove the sign at the Powell’s intersection, as it was deemed unenforceable, and to maintain the Sawdust Road signage as is while council looks for more information.

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