Muskoka Road 169 speed reduction put on hold
MUSKOKA LAKES – Whether motorists will have to quell their speed demons along Muskoka Road 169 between Bala and Gravenhurst is still up for debate.
The District of Muskoka’s engineering and public works committee met on Oct. 3 and was torn as to whether cutting the speed limit on that stretch of road from 80 km/hr to 60 km/h would create greater safety or encourage speeding.
“The recommendation stems from two requests we received in this general vicinity,” said Tony White, commissioner of engineering and public works for the district.
White said the requests from community members were for a speed limit reduction, installation of traffic lights near Muskoka Roads 169 and 13, and the extension of the community safety zone in Bala.
The requests prompted an investigation by district staff, who determined the traffic lights and community safety zone extension were not warranted. But a speed limit reduction is not out of the question.
White said staff studied the traffic in the area on the Friday afternoons before the Civic Holiday long weekend and the Labour Day long weekend.
“We tried to capture the absolute worst case. The guidelines say we’re supposed to take average conditions, but we feel because of our unique circumstances we should probably look at the worst case scenario,” said White in reference to Muskoka’s hectic weekend traffic.
The traffic volume at the Muskoka Roads 169 and 13 intersection lent weight to the speed limit reduction argument. White cited a railway crossing, businesses and a history of accidents in that area as well.
And because the intersection sits on the section of road between Bala and Gravenhurst, staff considered turning the entire three-kilometer section into a 60 km/hr zone.
The section links with a 60 km/h zone in Bala.
But after some thought staff decided to recommend a speed reduction to 60 km/h from Bala through Torrance and keep the 80 km/h speed limit from Torrance to Gravenhurst.
White said the section of road east of Torrance is a wide, 100-series highway with no businesses or visibility obstructions.
“It would become a speed trap if we lowered the speed limit in that area,” said White. “It would be difficult, I think, for most drivers to comply with a 60 km/h speed limit.”
And councillors seemed to agree.
Muskoka Lakes coun. Phil Harding and Georgian Bay mayor Larry Braid argued for even more of the section to retain a speed limit greater than 60 km/h.
Harding suggested a compromise speed limit of 70 km/h.
“We (would be creating) about five or six kilometers of 60 km/h on a 100-series highway that is designed to be travelled at a higher speed,” he said. “No one is going to travel 60 km/h (for the entire section). We’re just going to be writing the OPP tickets.”
District Chair John Klinck acknowledged that some Township of Muskoka Lakes councillors had fielded requests from the community for a speed limit reduction. He suggested the recommendation be sent to township council for feedback before district councillors made a decision.
Since Muskoka Road 169 is a district road, district council will have the final say. But committee members agreed with Klinck’s suggestion and deferred their decision pending feedback from Muskoka Lakes council.
‘It would become a speed trap if we lowered the sp