Study advises significant changes to County Rd 21

By Chad Ingram

Engineering firm AECOM Canada Ltd. is recommending a number of changes for County Road 21 where it enters Haliburton Village to make the area a more complete part of the community.

Councillors on Haliburton County’s planning committee received the 45-page traffic corridor assessment study during a Nov. 22 committee meeting. The study includes a host of recommendations for making the stretch of County Road 21 from the Whispering Pines housing complex into the village adhere to a  “complete streets” philosophy.

As the study explains this means providing “all people regardless of their age ability or mode of transportation with safe and healthy travel options throughout their community. A connected network of bikeable walkable streets can support increased property values and access to jobs improved safety improved traffic operations improved community health and better air quality. Particularly relevant to our study area the Complete Streets approach can enable older adults to age in place and help children get to and from school.”

The recommendations include a gateway feature near the Whispering Pines building along with road painting to let motorists know they are entering a community area and encourage them to drop their speed; a multi-use pathway up to three metres wide that would run alongside County Road 21 and allow for safe multi-modal transportation; pedestrian crossings that would connect that pathway with the existing pathway near Halbiem Crescent; an intersection upgrade at Industrial Park Road; a commercial corridor that would consolidate entrances and reduce entrance sizes; a widening of the corridor to allow for left-hand turn lanes; a speed display board and increased speed signage; and a closure or partial closure of the Wallings Road entrance redirecting that traffic through Halbiem Crescent.

“Full closure of Wallings Road is recommended to eliminate the safety concerns associated with limited sight distance at this intersection” the study reads. “Bus traffic from Haliburton Bus Lines will use a driveway from their property onto Halbiem Crescent which will be constructed at about 250 metres from the County Road 21 intersection. Residential traffic from Wallings Road will be directed to a new road connection constructed on the existing unopened right-of-way adjacent to 191 Halbiem which is about 400 metres from County Road 21.”

Under that plan pedestrians and cyclists would continue to access County Road 21 at the Wallings Road intersection.

“There are a number of implications on locally managed roads” county planner Charlsey White said of the study indicating that copies would be sent to Dysart et al council.

Dysart et al Deputy-mayor Andrea Roberts questioned some of the study’s recommendations including the proposed location of pedestrian crosswalks at locations such as Halbiem Crescent and the high school.

“That’s not where people cross” Roberts said.

“But they will” said Highlands East Mayor Dave Burton indicating that people were likely to cross wherever the crosswalks were created.

Roberts also took issue with the suggested closure of the Walling Road entrance.

“There have not been accidents there” Roberts said explaining residents drive carefully at the intersection. “That seemed a little excessive to me.”

Dysart et al Mayor Murray Fearrey said the elevation of the Head Lake bridge near the  high school should have been lowered during construction at the site last year in order to improve sight lines.

“But nobody listened” Fearrey said.

Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt said the recommendations of the study represent a total transformation of that section of County Road 21.

“Right now that area still looks like a highway” Moffatt said saying it made sense to transform it into a more pedestrian-friendly area “so you can push your stroller ride your bike you’re changing  the entire dynamic of a piece of land.”

Moffatt noted the County 21 corridor area is where development in Haliburton Village is happening and will continue to happen.

Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin said he found the logistics of the project strange since it involves a county-owned asset that runs through the centre of a town that is the heart of one its lower-tier municipalities.

“To me it’s odd” Devolin said.

The recommendations in the study will be reviewed by county planner Charlsey White and road director Craig Douglas who will draft a list of proposed projects and implementation policies those recommendations coming back to council. Exactly how the funding for the projects would work is yet to be determined and a report from White and Douglas noted that the development of corridor presented opportunities for public/private partnerships. At the meeting White noted that developers can be ask to cover some costs.

The AECOM report can be reviewed in full by searching the Nov. 22 planning committee agenda on the Haliburton County website.