On Monday, June 1, 2020, workers from Duffin Contracting demolish the chicane. DON RICKERS

Obstructing no more: traffic calming measure demolished

The Haist Street chicane, located just north of Highway 20, met its demise on Monday as Duffin Contracting went to work with a backhoe and dump truck, while a handful of onlookers watched. Town Council had unanimously voted to remove the chicane last December, but the onset of winter delayed the work.

That the chicane existed at all was the result of several traffic studies looking into ways to curtail speeding in the area, and a petition in 2013 from local residents to address the issue as a safety concern.

Some residents had indicated a preference for speed humps as a traffic calming measure, such as those found on the other side of Haist, south of Highway 20. But the Director of Public Works at the time, Andrea Clemencio, cautioned against speed humps, saying that drivers tend to speed between them, and that they are troublesome for emergency vehicles.

In the fall of 2015, a temporary chicane was created along Haist Street as a pilot project, and traffic speed on the roadway was monitored. When the results showed a substantial decrease in the number of vehicles exceeding the speed limit, a decision was made by staff to erect a permanent chicane.

“The chicane was first discussed while I was a councillor,” recalled Mayor Marvin Junkin. “I remember doing some research on them, and while they were used in Toronto for a short period of time, many were removed because of the difficulties that they presented to transit buses.”

A tractor trailer’s rear axles jump the concrete on the chicane’s western edge on June 14, 2017. The aftermath of damage caused earlier that day is seen inside the island. BOB LOBLAW

Completed in November 2016, the chicane was problematic from the start. The contractor had to rebuild the obstruction shortly after it was erected, due to construction errors. The chicane was damaged at least twice by tractor-trailers attempting to navigate the narrowed passage. Some drivers seemed confused by the double-yield sign design, when vehicles simultaneously approached from north and south, something that the Mayor acknowledged.

“More then one resident of the Town has questioned the legality of the signage that accompanied this chicane,” said Junkin.

Haist Street residents Oscar Weiland and Geoff Lowe presented council with a petition in 2017, signed by nearly 200 people, urging the obstruction’s removal.

“All the residents on Haist Street north are affected by this ridiculous, stupid, non-functional, ugly, dangerous contraption in the middle of the road,” said Weiland.

Nothing but a memory. On Wednesday, June 3, two fresh patches of asphalt were the only evidence that once there was a chicane. BOB LOBLAW