Province stops short of accepting the European-inspired 2+1 model
The Ontario government will extend and add additional passing lanes to the Highway 11 north corridor this year, but has yet to green light a new highway model being pushed for by a safety committee from Temiskaming Shores.
Going the Extra Mile for Safety committee member Danny Whalen says the province will make the improvements, having completed a highway review that pointed to other safety measures which could be put in place, such as more rumble strips.
The province, however, will not adopt the highway model known as 2+1, which the committee has advanced as a way to reduce the number of fatal collisions on Highway 11.
But Whalen, who is a councillor for the City of Temiskaming Shores, says “any improvement on Highway 11 is an improvement.”
“And the fact they’ve come out with these recommendations at least means they’re listening to us.”
The committee has called for a pilot of the European-inspired 2+1 model along Highway 11 between North Bay and Cochrane.
The model would involve having two lanes in one direction and one lane going in the other direction, separated by a median barrier and changing along the highway to allow vehicles traveling in both directions to pass one another.
The committee claims the model has been shown to reduce fatalities and serious injuries in countries where it has been used.
But Kristin Franks, Ministry of Transportation Northeastern Region regional issues and media advisor, provided The Nugget with an opposite take, stating in an email that the model “could create additional collisions of all severity levels, including those that result in serious injury or fatalities.”
Franks added that more collisions could increase the number of road closures, resulting in further delays for the entire corridor.
“The operational performance review has shown that the Highway 11 north corridor is operating consistently with other provincial highways sharing similar characteristics,” Franks said.
“Our review considered the feasibility of implementing a European 2+1 roadways model, but concluded it would not be appropriate for this corridor at this time due to concerns over meeting appropriate design standards and the potential to increase single motor-vehicle collisions.”
Franks said the ministry added 67 kilometres of centre-line rumble strips on Highway 11 north in 2015 and 2016, which resulted in a significant reduction in cross-over-centre fatal collisions.
Other safety measures identified by the review include more passing opportunities, rumble strips, paving shoulders and improving roadside conditions.
A Team Highway 11 North Working Group, which includes the ministry, Ontario Provincial Police, City of Temiskaming Shores and the committee, has been created.
Franks said the ministry also will continue to evaluate the use of a 2+1 model as median barrier systems evolve.
Committee member Mark Wilson, who has travelled to Europe in the past to research 2+1, said they would continue to advocate for the model.
“Obviously we disagree with their final result in the sense that they don’t feel it’s appropriate,” he said.
“We feel the issues they have identified are issues which can be addressed.”
Wilson said barriers are important in preventing high-speed collisions, adding that with increased mining and truck traffic in the area, having a good highway will not only help the economy but allow people to feel safer while driving.
“The ministry has been very good dealing with us, but we want to continue to push for, at some point, a pilot project because certainly it’s shown a lot of promise and they’re continuing to be built in countries around the world. So we want to see it actually work here and that’s really what we’re after.”