Stock image of a car driving quickly down a rural road.The speed limit on a large stretch of Airport Road will likely be reduced to 60 kilometres per hour, down from 70 km/h.

City politicians are looking at implementing the reduction from 100 metres past Bennett Street to 70 metres past Surrey Drive. The move, which is being recommended by staff, is aimed at making the intersection at Surrey Drive safer, particularly left hand turns.

The proposed speed reduction was discussed Monday at the committee level. And, if approved, will see all of Airport Road from Highway 11 to Duxford Road a 60 km/h zone.

According to staff, there were 40 collisions in the vicinity of the Airport Road and Surrey Drive intersection between 2002 and 2015, with a similar number of collisions occurring each year.

Council was told Monday one-third of those collisions involved left hand turns,while the other two-thirds were related to wildlife, weather and distracted driving. Members also heard the average speed in that area is five to 10 kilometres above the posted 70km/h, while the maximum speeds are as high as 60 km/h over the posted limit.

The speed limit reduction is expected to help reduce accidents by providing greater sight distance and more time for drivers to react.

Staff indicated they also considered designating no left turns from Surrey onto Airport, along with the installation of barriers. But that option would come with a $60,000 price tag. Traffic lights at Surrey and Airport were also looked at, at a cost of approximately $200,000, but staff said lights aren’t warranted based on traffic counts.

When traffic signals were installed at the nearby Pearce Street intersection, Coun. George Maroosis said city officials thought that would be where most drivers would end up turning off Airport Road. And he suggested making a stretch of Surrey Drive one-way in order to force that to occur.

But Coun. Tanya Vrebosch, chairwoman of engineering and works, said additional measures could be looked at in the future, opting to move the matter forward for a vote in two weeks.

Staff noted that police enforcement will likely be necessary for compliance with a reduced speed limit in the area.

Some council members, meanwhile, asked if staff looked at implementing an lower speed limit.

Coun. Chris Mayne noted the default speed limit in the city is 50 km/h. And Coun. Jeff Serran asked about a proposal a couple of years ago about a 40 km/h speed limit throughout the city.

Council agreed in 2012 to dropping the speed limit on all residential streets to 40 km/h. But it rescinded the decision after realizing that maximum speed limit signs would be required on every roadway affected, making the move prohibitively expensive.

Council heard from staff Monday, however, that the province is looking at making changes that would allow communities to implement a 40km/h default speed limit, with signs posted at entrances rather than on every affected street.

Source: North Bay Nugget