Alberton weighing lower speed limit for Frog Creek Road

People accustomed to taking Frog Creek Road as a high-speed alternative to Highway 11/71 may have to re-think that strategy down the road.
At its regular meeting last Wednesday (March 10), Alberton council proposed to lower the speed limit on Frog Creek Road from the current 80 km/h to 50 km/h for the stretch from the town limits of Fort Frances to Highway 611.
Council intends to further reduce the speed to 40 km/h within 100 metres of the hill, located roughly four km west of the Fort Frances Airport.
The decision was made in consultation with Fort Frances OPP S/Sgt. Hugh Dennis, who attended last week’s meeting in order to give his semi-annual report to council.
At an earlier council meeting, Roads Superintendent Larry George indicated to council a stretch of Frog Creek Road adjacent to the hill was in a serious state of disrepair and posed a potential safety hazard to high-speed traffic.
Alberton Reeve Mike Hammond, who lives on Frog Creek Road, noted some people drive at excessive speed on that section and seem to enjoy “flying” over the hill—posing a risk both to themselves and other users of the road.
Coun. Doug Mitchell reminded council the ditches along the section of road that runs through a swamp are extremely steep and deep so anyone going off the road there at any speed could wind up in real danger.
The idea of a speed reduction was proposed by Coun. Mike Ford, who raised another reason for the measure: the high volume of traffic is contributing to the rate of degradation of the road.
He suggested reducing the speed limit also would reduce the traffic volume and thereby slow the rate of deterioration.
“I’d like to make that road as inconvenient to use as possible,” Coun. Ford remarked. “It [lower speed limits] will divert traffic and give us a chance to keep the road in shape.
“After we get the road back in shape, then we can think about raising the speed,” he added.
Council expects to have a bylaw prepared for next month’s meeting.
Coun. Barb Cournoyer also suggested council ask George to investigate acquiring new speed signs as well as rough-road signs for other roads in Alberton.
In his briefing to council, meanwhile, S/Sgt. Dennis outlined the efforts the OPP is making in community policing. He reminded council his staff of officers has been reduced by two from 44 to 42 over the last year, but felt they still could maintain the same level of policing as before.
“It just means our officers will be working harder to do the same work the have been doing,” S/Sgt. Dennis said.
In order to achieve that, the focus for policing has been slightly changed. “The focus for 2004 is increased awareness of traffic management,” he explained.
Traffic management, said S/Sgt. Dennis, is divided into two components—education and enforcement.
The education component will be aimed at new drivers and seniors, with a particular emphasis on the importance of seatbelts. “We investigated six traffic fatalities last year and some were not wearing seatbelts,” he stressed.
S/Sgt. Dennis also relayed to council the success of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program at Fort Frances High School in reducing injury and crime rates among local youth and invited councillors to come and see the results for themselves.
“Any council members who want to attend a D.A.R.E. graduation are more than welcome. Just give me a call,” he said.
He also extended an open invitation to councillors to participate in an OPP ride-along so they could see first-hand what the township’s annual police budget is doing.
Alberton paid $46,000 to the OPP for policing services in 2003. Some of that money ($945) came back to the township under a revenue-sharing arrangement with the provincial government, S/Sgt. Dennis noted.
Under the arrangement, people who are convicted in the district under the Provincial Offences Act pay a portion of their fines to the municipality in which the offence occurs.
This does not apply in the unorganized areas of the district.
S/Sgt. Dennis also noted municipalities are not billed for the services of officers who are sick, on vacation, or called to duty elsewhere.