Tinkering done to ease congestion around busy commercial zone

Cathy Dobson

Sarnia’s most clogged commercial zone does not require a new vehicle entrance, although a few strategically-placed signs could improve traffic flow, says a study commissioned by SmartCentres.

“The Quinn Drive area east of Barclay has the worst congestion in the city,” said Mike Berkvens, a development manager with the city’s engineering department.

By Sarnia standards, Quinn Drive near the Walmart and the LCBO is very busy, but compared to larger cities there are no real traffic issues, said Berkvens.

Rather than a new access road or driveway, the SmartCentre’s latest traffic impact study recommends simple improvements for better access to the shopping complex.

A four-way stop was recently added in the parking lot near the main entrance and is expected to keep traffic moving and avoid backups.

New lines will be painted on Quinn, and a sign will go up in September directing drivers past the SmartCentre’s west entrance, which is intended for delivery trucks and buses only.

When shoppers use the restricted drive as an entrance, they frequently cause a lineup of cars back to Barclay, said Berkvens.

City staff have talked to SmartCentres about building another entrance off Quinn Drive, closer to the Winners store.

“Their impact study says it’s not needed. But we intend to ask for another impact study every time another building goes up out there,” Berkvens said. “Eventually, I believe, there will be another entrance built.”

The SmartCentres property has room for at least two more buildings.

Meanwhile, small alterations were made recently to improve traffic flow in two other city areas.

On Michigan Avenue at Murphy Road, traffic is increasing due to the student growth at St. Patrick’s High School. The city spent about $20,000 to put in new left turn signals on all approaches. Vehicles making left hand turns at this intersection now have an advanced signal when a vehicle is detected.