New traffic controller at Keating Avenue

Duane Hicks

If you want to cross the intersection of Keating Avenue and King’s Highway on foot, you’ll have to push a button first.
That’s the message Operations and Facilities manager Travis Rob wants to get across to the public now that a new controller set was installed there over two days earlier this week, which includes an Accessible Pedestrian Signal (APS) to meet Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requirements and video detection capability.
Rob said the APS includes a button on the traffic light poles at each of the crosswalks at the intersection for pedestrians to press when they want to cross.
Once the button is pushed, it sends a signal to the controller, and the pedestrian will see the white “pedestrian walking” signal appear so they can make their way across safely.
It also will “chirp” to advise pedestrians who are visually impaired when they can cross the street.
As well, there’s a light above the button to visually indicate it has been pushed.
Unlike other intersections in town with pedestrian signals, the one at Keating and King’s Highway won’t change at all if the button isn’t pushed, Rob noted.
“You will stand there forever waiting for the [pedestrian signal to change] unless you push that button,” he stressed.
The video detection capability of the new controller set, meanwhile, is expected to improve traffic flow, especially during off-peak times, such when students are in school or during the night.
Motorists going east and west will notice that, more often than not, the light at the Keating intersection will be green and they can keep driving through it without stopping.
This is because the new controller set detects whether vehicles travelling north and south on Keating Avenue have approached the intersection.
If there’s no vehicle(s) coming on Keating, or no pedestrian pushes the button to cross, the light for through-traffic will stay green at all times.
But if a vehicle on Keating pulls up to the intersection, a video camera will detect it and tell the east-west lights to turn red and the north-south ones to turn green.
Once the north-south traffic turns or passes through the intersection, the east-west lights will turn green again.
“What people are going to notice is, on the highway, the traffic is going to flow much better,” Rob said.
“And for most motorists that are coming to Keating Avenue, and/or the pedestrians, if there hasn’t been any cross-traffic for a while, that traffic signal change happens very rapidly,” he added.
“You’re going to see the benefit from both sides.
“You’re going to see it for the through-traffic on the highway which, of course, is the bulk majority of the traffic, as well as for the people that are coming to that intersection, either by foot or vehicle, on Keating Avenue,” Rob noted.
“Those light signals are going to change much more rapidly for them.”
As more controller sets are replaced, more intersections in town will become like the one at Keating Avenue, Rob added.
In addition to this intersection, the town currently operates 11 other signalized ones, all with the exact same equipment that has not been supported by the manufacturer for a number of years.
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 20 years old, placing the town in a position where it has to look at a phased replacement of all controllers over the next two years to avoid a failure causing sustained downtime and unbudgeted expenses.