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New Four-Way Stop in IDC Met with Mixed Opinions

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The intersection of Dumaine Road and Old PTH 59 in Île-des-Chênes is now a four-way stop. Brenda Sawatzky

Residents and visitors who drive through Île-des-Chênes are viewing a new four-way stop with both hope and scepticism. The major intersection of Dumaine and Old PTH 59, once only a two-stop, officially became a four-way stop on May 12. The change is intended to provide an added level of safety.

“This intersection has had issues for a long time,” says councillor Shane Pelletier, who lives in Île-des-Chênes. “There are close calls on a daily basis and there have been a few fairly substantial crashes there as well.”

The new stop signs, complete with flashing red lights, now stop traffic headed east and west along Dumaine Road.

Pelletier says the extra signage should help southbound drivers who have a disadvantage when it comes to spotting traffic advancing from the west along the highway’s S-shape contour. As well, it will help slow down traffic that’s turning south onto Old PTH 59 and make it safer for residents entering and exiting the condo developments nearby.

But this intersection has long been problematic for pedestrians, too.

“Residents wishing to cross at that intersection, currently from any direction, face a huge challenge given the length of time they are crossing due to the [width] of both streets and current speed of vehicular traffic here,” Pelletier adds.

Île-des-Chênes resident Shari Hanton is still shaken by the memory of taking a call from paramedics as they attended to her husband after he was involved in a near fatal accident at this corner on April 23, 2022.

Hanton’s husband had just pulled off Highway 59 and was heading eastward through the intersection when his van was struck by a northbound vehicle pulling a trailer. Hanton had the right of way.

“[My husband] was three minutes from home when he was T-boned,” Hanton says. “[The other driver] was going at such a high speed that he knocked him off the road and into the ditch.”

Hanton adds that her husband’s van sustained $23,000 in damage. His physical condition, though, is what’s really taking its toll.

“The injuries my husband incurred are extensive,” says Hanton. “There are issues with the whole right side of his body… He still is experiencing pain in his clavicle area, back, leg, and hands.”

Currently receiving physiotherapy and chiropractic treatments, Hanton’s husband has only been able to perform about 20 percent of the work he was doing before the accident. As a self-employed individual, this means he now has to hire out for the other 80 percent to keep his business afloat.

Hanton and her husband aren’t convinced that the new stop signs will make enough of an impact at this high-risk corner.

Linda LeBlanc lives in a condo immediately facing the intersection. She witnessed the aftermath of the April 23 accident, having heard the crash from inside her home. It’s far from the first accident or close call she’s witnessed.

“I sent a letter to council eight years ago about the dangers of the intersection,” says LeBlanc. “At that time it was a provincial matter, so nothing was done. I am pleased we have it now. We need to slow traffic going into town. [Also] there are more families walking now and we must protect them.”

The problem with the intersection, in her mind, is that too many people who are unfamiliar with the intersection have assumed it always was a four-way stop. As well, northbound vehicles moving at highway speed often fail to slow down to the posted 60 kilometres per hour speed limit as they approach town.

But according to some residents, the two new signs may cause a whole new problem for commuters coming home at the end of the day.

“One of the concerns we’ve heard is traffic backing up onto Highway 59,” Pelletier says. “There is 250 meters of space from the new highway to the intersection, which should allow for plenty of vehicles to make their way through the intersection without causing said concern.”

Still other residents are hopeful that a four-way stop is just the precursor to the traffic solution they say will best deal with the intersection’s problems: a roundabout.

Pelletier doesn’t disagree. The problem, he says, is that the stretch of Dumaine Road that runs from Highway 59 through the intersection and all the way to Main Street is under the province’s jurisdiction.

He says council has long been trying to get the province to relinquish this stretch of road. The issue has been a thorn in council’s side, he says, for years. The roadway hasn’t seen proper repairs since 1972.

If the road were to be relinquished to the RM, Pelletier says council would make much-needed improvements to it through Ritchot’s Main Street revitalization program.

For now, all the provincial government has agreed to is the installation of the two extra stop signs. However, Pelletier hopes the province will also see the need to soon install a proper crosswalk at the intersection.

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