A plea for traffic lights
Currently, traffic northbound on Pumphouse Rd. must wait at the stop sign for an opportunity to turn right or left onto busy Bridge St. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network
Jody Mott, Executive Director of the Holland Marsh Growers Association, appeared in Council as a deputation on Tuesday evening, pleading with Council for at least temporary traffic lights at the intersection of Canal/Pumphouse Rd. and Bridge St.
“This is something that the farmers have been requesting for years,” Mott told Council, noting that in the past, the response has been that traffic lights aren't warranted, based on a 2012 study.
That was six years ago, said Mott; now “our Town is booming and expanding” - and with the Simcoe Rd. bridge closed for replacement, and the Graham Sideroad bridge slated for reconstruction starting in November, the need is acute.
She said that one farmer reported waiting 55 minutes to make a left turn from Canal Rd. onto Bridge St., and that school buses have been told to turn around, rather than take the risk of merging with traffic.
“Somebody's going to get injured down there,” Mott warned, asking the Town to support its agricultural community.
“This is a large economic piece of our community,” she said. “For some reason, no-one wants to take the $250,000 (cost of a set of traffic signals) and invest it into the agricultural community. “It's getting dangerous for our farmers.”
Councillor Gary Lamb argued that there is a greater need for an alternative route, since the four lanes over the Bradford Bridge currently take all of the traffic between Highway 400 and the 404. “We need to get some will, with York Region, Simcoe County, the Province and us,” Lamb said. “A jerry-rigged solution is probably not safe.”
“This is a tool for the farmers. They need this road,” Mott replied. “We need to have something to try, whether it's permanent... Farmers need to get where they need to go” - in this case, to a packing plant on Dissette St. or to the Bradford Co-op.
Deputy Mayor James Leduc suggested employing paid duty officers to direct traffic at certain times of the day – but Mott said that it could put the officer's life “at risk.” Instead, she suggested the installation of temporary traffic lights, at a cost of about $150,000, and noted that King Twp has expressed a willingness to contribute – but also feels that Simcoe County should pay its share.
“We hoped that Simcoe would actually do something for Bradford – but they always seem to forget us down here,” said Mott.
Chief Administrative Officer Geoff McKnight promised a staff report on the costs and potential liabilities of a set of lights at Canal Rd. and Bridge St.
Mott also provided an update, of conditions in the Holland Marsh following the flooding that took place earlier this year.
“There's not a spot that hasn't been hit this year,” she said, noting that “there are several farms that have had to reseed, from one side to the other.”
Farmers are working together to improve conditions, and crops like lettuce are now beginning to recover. “We need the community to come together and buy local,” Mott said, and show support for the Marsh growers.
And the growers, she said, would have been in Council to make the request for the traffic lights themselves, if they hadn't been so busy taking water off their fields, and recovering from the flooding.
Action is needed soon, she said. “Harvest is coming, and it's not going to be pretty.”