New traffic lights coming to dangerous intersection in Crosby

Signs posted at the Hwy 15 & Cty. Rd. 42 intersection. (Nate Vandermeer / CTV News Ottawa)

After years of lobbying, new traffic lights will be installed at a dangerous intersection along Highway 15 in Crosby, Ont., 35 kilometres southwest of Smiths Falls.

The intersection with County Road 42 involves a long, blind corner on the provincial highway. OPP say there have been 21 collisions there in the last five years.

"You'll hear the transport horn and you just kind of wait for the crash," said Jim Summers, who runs Rideau Lakes Building Centre on the northwest corner. 

"We've seen some (collisions) where they've hit side by side, some T-boned. We had a gentleman come right off of 15, hit the stop sign through here and off into our fence," Summers said. "That's probably the worst one we've seen but, luckily, he was safe.

"You've got a blind spot on each side, you're trying to come from the other side of the road and unless you park yourself off to the side to look both ways, you can't see either way," Summers added. 

The province says a new traffic light will be installed at the intersection in the near future. Rideau Lakes Township mayor Arie Hoogenboom calls it wonderful news.

"We're pretty excited by that announcement. It came together by a fair bit of lobbying by previous councils and the current council," Hoogenboom said. "We worked with our MPP Steve Clark and we made an additional delegation at the recent ROMA (Rural Ontario Municipal Association) conference with minister Mulroney, who granted the approval for traffic lights." 

The high rate of collisions at the intersection has been a concern for residents who use the road regularly.

"We've had a lot of accidents at this intersection, and that doesn't include the many near misses that I get phone calls on saying, 'When are you going to do something about this intersection?'" Hoogenboom said. 

The lights will slow down traffic along the highway, Hoogenboom said. He also hopes it will revitalize the small hamlet.

"A number of years ago, we did a community improvement plan for Crosby and part of that, to make those businesses successful in the future, was let's slow the traffic down, let's get a set of lights so that people feel safe when they are coming through that particular intersection," Hoogenboom said. 

Residents says speed is a big issue along Highway 15, some comparing it to highway 401, and it is a major route for transports.

However, some say a traffic light might not be the best idea.

Robert Baker, in nearby Forfar, says he is not in favour of the light. 

"If a big truck has to stop in a hurry, it's going to be dangerous," Baker said, adding a traffic circle might have been a better option. 

"If we need to slow the traffic down, you can put more vehicles through a roundabout than through a traffic light," he said. "It'd be very tough for a trucker. There's quite a corner there and by the time you spot it (the traffic light), if you're fully loaded, you'd have a lot of trouble trying to get stopped so you wouldn't hit someone in the intersection." 

Hoogenboom agreed that he's a fan of traffic circles, but Highway 15 is a provincial highway and it was not recommended by the Ministry of Transportation. 

"The ministry would have suggested that at some point and time. Traffic circles are a great solution but I have not seen many of them on provincial highways, particularly on a highway that has a fair bit of transports driving through. So, at this point in time, our council is quite happy to see traffic lights going in there," Hoogenboom said. 

"But, if the ministry wants to upgrade that to a traffic circle, I'm sure we would consider that," he added, saying proper warning signals in both directions will notify drivers of the upcoming traffic lights.

Summers says any solution is better than what is there now.

"I just hope it works and slows things down and cuts the accidents back because I do see a lot of them in the summer especially," he said. 

In a press release from Rideau Lakes Township, the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville are in the planning stages for road improvements on County Road 42 between Crosby and Newboro.

It's anticipated the traffic lights will be installed in late 2021 or early 2022 and will be coordinated between both the province and counties, "as road grade and approach changes may be required."