Armit traffic lights to stay

Duane Hicks

The traffic lights at the intersection of Armit Avenue and Second Street will not be removed as a cost-savings, and in fact the town will be upgrading one set of traffic lights in the west end of town.
“We heard from the people regarding the lights,” Mayor Roy Avis told the Times this morning when asked about the decision.
While town administration and council had been reviewing the possibility of reducing the number of traffic lights as a cost-savings, and Armit and Second was identified as the most suitable to have its lights replaced with stop signs on Armit, council decided to go in another direction and begin updating the town’s traffic lights, he explained.
“The original reason for the removal of lights was cost-savings because every street light that we have in Fort Frances, the controllers are obsolete,” Mayor Avis noted.
“We have to move into a new era of street lighting,” he added.
“We have to have the walk signal; they have to make a noise so they meet the criteria of the [Accessibility for Ontarian with Disabilities Act].
“So from that going forward, we felt that rather removing a set of lights . . . we are going to update the controller on the corner of Keating and King’s Highway, where there’s a tremendous amount of traffic and three schools in the immediate area,” the mayor said.
Council last night approved a $52,000 expenditure for a new controller set for the intersection of Keating Avenue and King’s Highway, including video detection capability and an Accessible Pedestrian Signal (APS) to meet accessibility requirements.
The video detection will improve traffic flow, especially during off-peak times (when students are in school).
East-west highway traffic gets stopped frequently for no reason during the off-peak times, said Operations and Facilities manager Travis Rob.
“So what we’re going to be able to do with this new controller set is there will be video detection that will detect a vehicle on Keating Avenue . . . and at that point in time, go through a time delay and change the lights to allow that car or those cars to go on a predetermined schedule,” he explained.
“After it gives the Keating Avenue green light for a while, it will go amber, red, and open the highway back up to through-traffic,” added Rob.
“If there’s no one coming on Keating Avenue, the through-traffic will stay green at all times.”
The APS will have a button for pedestrians to press and “chirp” to advise pedestrians who are visually impaired when they can cross the street.
“When you come up and push that button, it will also initiate a change in the lights to allow safe crossing for pedestrians across the highway,” said Rob.
Upgrading the lights at Keating Avenue and King’s Highway also will provide some spare parts to support the out-dated equipment currently installed throughout town.
The town currently operates 12 signalized intersections, all with the exact same equipment that has not been supported by the manufacturer for a number of years, said Rob.
These controllers all were installed in 1998 and have a useful life of 12 years.
Most municipalities plan for the replacement of their controllers on a 12-year cycle to avoid any disruptions to service.
But these units are almost 20 years old, placing the town in “a precarious position,” Rob warned.
“In speaking with the manufacturer, these controllers are ‘unrepairable with replacement components no longer available,'” he noted.
“The town needs to start a phased replacement of all controllers over the next two years, or sooner, starting in 2018 to avoid a failure causing sustained down time and unbudgeted expenses,” Rob stressed.
Looking ahead, the replacement of six additional controllers will be brought forward to the 2018 capital budget.