The revitalization of Beckwith Street Phase 2 was once again up for discussion during Monday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting in Smiths Falls. After a night of much discussion with James Fookes, Department Manager of Municipal Infrastructure with Morrison Hershfield, council decided to eliminate the free-flowing right turn lane from North Elmsley onto Beckwith Street. The right hand lane will still be dedicated solely to right-turning traffic, however it will no longer be a free-flow lane. Vehicles will be obliged to stop if there is a red light and only proceed when the way is clear.
Traffic projections show little to no delay to be caused by a “signalized right-turn lane,” Fookes explained. In developing their projections, Morrison Hershfield used traffic analysis from 2012 and 2017. Suitable up-to-date numbers are unable to be obtained as traffic is currently skewed and reduced due to the Covid-19 pandemic keeping many people at home. Councillor Brennan was unsatisfied with this, pointing out that Smiths Falls has changed enormously since 2012 and 2017. “I would suggest that those numbers are not the best,” he said. Councillor McGuire pointed out that Canopy Growth added over one thousand jobs in Smiths Falls since then, and hundreds of homes have been built.
Councillor McKenna highlighted the importance of safe crossings for all of Smiths Falls’ citizens, from people with mobility issues to parents with baby strollers. “Close calls – we don’t document them,” he shrugged, “but I’m sure there are plenty there.” Councillor Allen encouraged Council to look at the larger picture. “We want Beckwith Street to be a people place – a place where people eat, listen to music, gather and enjoy themselves,” she explained.
Most of the council was satisfied that a signalized right turn lane was the safest choice for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. When the vote was called, all councillors except Councillor Brennan were in favour of eliminating the free-flowing right turn.