Tbnewswatch Local News
Sunday July 5 2015
7:17 PM EDT
2014-03-07 at 15:22

Gravelle, Ministry of Transportation disagree on Expressway warning lights

By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

Michael Gravelle thinks advance warning lights on the Thunder Bay Expressway will make it safer, but the Ministry of Transportation doesn't agree.

Installing a warning system near the intersection of Balsam Street and the expressway was one of the first successes Gravelle had as a rookie MPP in 1995.

A number of fatal collisions convinced the then-Harris government to warn travelers that they'd soon be at the first set of traffic lights in nearly 700 kilometres if driving from Sault Ste. Marie.

But in nearly 20 years since, Gravelle hasn't been able to convince the ministry that the same system is needed for that stretch of road's other five sets of lights.

Gravelle's been told in countless conversations with the ministry over the years that underground sensors near the intersections can sense the amount of traffic on the road and change the lights as needed.

Balsam's warning system, viewed as a success, is only needed to warn drivers that they're entering an area that has a series of lights.

"From that point on they argue that people know there are other lights coming up therefore it doesn't necessitate warning lights. I don't agree," Gravelle said.

Gravelle is planning to bring the issue up again when he meets with transportation minister Glenn Murray.

"I'll keep up the fight," he said.

He was hoping that the system would be put in place during a recent $20 million upgrade to the expressway but that didn't happen. Gravelle said he is looking forward to a study, expected next year, that would judge whether installing a median and off-ramps, a true four-lane highway as Gravelle calls it, is necessary.

But Gravelle is proud of the province's record of $5 billion spent on Northern highways over the past decade, including the four-laning of Hwy 11/17 between Thunder Bay and Nipigon.

"Theres is a continual need for us to make it better and safer," he said.



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Dan Dan says:
I'd prefer it if they just enforced the speed limits. Try travelling at 90 km/h down the expressway, or at 70 km/h down the harbour expressway. You'll be run off the road completely.
3/10/2014 8:29:22 PM
Dockboy says:
It's obvious the MTO believes dollars are more important than human lives. Let them try to drive between John street and Oliver road, when you round the bend and the light is green. In that distance to the lights it's an a nerve racking mind game you play as to whether the light will change or not. We need these warning lights.
3/10/2014 9:24:56 AM
passlake says:
except people are NOT dying at our intersections on a daily or even monthly basis.

or are they? I must have missed something??
3/9/2014 10:22:10 PM
SomeGuy says:
We should probably remove then name "Expressway" because there is nothing express about it, and while we are at it let's do the same for the Harbour.
3/9/2014 7:51:45 PM
nvjgu says:
Ok, Installing a warning system on Balsam and exp. was one of Mr Gravelle's successes back in 1995. What else have you done since 1995 Mr Gravelle. Everything you have been in charge of has tanked.
3/9/2014 1:04:24 PM
yqt says:
Obviously you were pronounced legally blind some time after 1995.
3/10/2014 11:47:55 AM
nvjgu says:
Really, Is this all they have to do with there time. Debate warning sign's.
3/9/2014 12:55:07 PM
fastball says:
We should get SOMETHING installed, for the love of Mike.
Flashing lights that warn you of an upcoming stop a kilometer up ahead would MAYBE help with the chronic Thunder Bay problem of motorists treating yellow lights like green lights. And if it's been red for only a few seconds - that counts as green, too.
Since they're never going to put cloverleafs or roundabouts here - at least we should try to give the motorists every chance to get from Point A to Point be efficiently....let alone survive the trip.
3/9/2014 10:08:47 AM
nvjgu says:
I wouldn't worry too much about lights, Gas is not going to stay at 1.35 a ltr for ever.
3/9/2014 9:32:30 AM
joey joe joe jr. shabadoo says:
Put a set of lights before the set of lights then???

Better yet, put a speed-bump before EVERY set of lights to slow down traffic if that dosent work!

Even better, or as S. Duncan might say
"just stay at home & avoid the lights all together"
3/8/2014 11:22:56 AM
rocketship says:

Just get the warning lights installed!!!!

They work!!!!
3/8/2014 11:00:56 AM
The Beaver..... says:
Michael is the master of warning lights unfortunately he never sees them. He didn't see them at Global sticks nor at Buchanan nor at Terrace Bay nor at the Ring of Fire.
3/8/2014 10:34:53 AM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
Will these lights merely confuse and distract the drivers, especially all the tourists, who will no doubt be thrown into total and utter confusion by a distracting and potentially blinding array of flashing beacons never ever seen anywhere else in Canada??? Think of The Children.
3/8/2014 6:40:24 AM
Momof2greatkids says:
Why do it if it makes sense...... It would be a lot safer for everyone....
3/7/2014 11:00:22 PM
alrightythen says:
Our expressway doesn't need warning lights.

What our expressway NEEDS is to be a real expressway, complete with on/off ramps. The "expressway" the way it is cannot be called an expressway. I am tired of having to hit the brakes every minute because of every stinkin red light.
3/7/2014 10:43:00 PM
DustInTheWind says:
I happen to like the warning lights on the Harborview Expressway...I drive by warning lights. Give me enough notice that the light is going to change. Is it time to start braking or will I make it safely through the intersection. So far I have been accident free.
3/7/2014 9:36:50 PM
dynamiter says:
Let me just spell this out clearly. MTO officials are civil servants - they work at the behest of the elected officials. So when Mikey wanted his portapotis along the highways ( you know the ones that are 4 feet under the snowbanks now) he got them because - indirectly he is a boss of these MTO guys. If he wants these lights, he simply convinces the Head MTO guy to put it into his guy's budget and it gets done. It isnt the MTO guys who are not doing it - it is these blame everybody else but themselves, Fiberals who are not making their guys do what they want them to do. And obviously Mikey isnt thought of highly enough by the rest of his buddies in the Fiberal Cabinet to get his way on this issue. Anything else is nothing but typical Fiberal smoke and mirrors.
3/7/2014 6:39:23 PM
musicferret says:
Maybe we should have put a clover leaf or something else like it on the other intersections rather than worrying about a warning light.

Also, maybe we should have NOT spent countless millions putting one at Hodder! How on earth can you justify going from a stop sign to a clover leaf when there is 100X the traffic at each and every other intersection on the highway in this city?

If it was really THAT TOUGH to turn into the highway, which it was not, a simple acceleration lane from each direction with a widening of the highway would have fixed the 'problem'.

Problem solved, 1/50th the cost.
3/7/2014 4:56:40 PM
Escroft says:
How about instead of more lights, you get the Ministry of Transportation to put blocks along the middle of the road, increase the speed to 100 km/h, get rid of ALL the lights, and create either a cloverleaf, figure 8, or SPUI interchange (I have a photo of what a SPUI is). Though a Cloverleaf may be too big for the intersection of, say, Arthur Street, a SPUI is compressed and would fit in well with that intersection, as well as Red River Road. A Figure 8 would fit in well with Balsam and Oliver, and a Cloverleaf would fit in well with the Harbor Expressway.
3/7/2014 3:59:42 PM
Cachinnate says:
Interesting concept. I had to look it up to see how it actually works. Cool way to move traffic using minimum land.
3/7/2014 4:35:00 PM
fairlane says:
Great idea. You think they would have thought of that when they re-built the harbour expressway interchange a few years ago.

Wait, it's not an interchange...it's an intersection. Two expressways with lights. Back then I thought, Ok, at least if there's going to be lights there would be TWO left turn lanes from the busy Westward Harbour expressway to the southbound expressway. But, no...they built only one when they had the chance.

Don't hold your breath.
3/10/2014 9:13:33 AM
hunterthedog says:
This is the stupedist thing I have read in years. OF COURSE we need warning lights! Years ago, I read an article that said that warning lights were going up at EVERY intersection on the expressway. Excellent. So what happened?? They installed the bloody lights on the HARBOUR "expressway", where traffic is just getting up to speed when there's another intersection, where you can see the next intersection from the previous one, where there are FAR less transports blowing lights, and where the speed limit is 70!! Did some idiot contractor mess up and put the warning lights on the WRONG expressway??
3/7/2014 3:52:02 PM
kaseybear says:
I really don't think that warning lights are needed at all intersections, but the set at the first lights travelling west and a set at the first lights travelling east would make sense
3/7/2014 3:51:23 PM
Arch Stanton says:
Exactly HOW HIGH does the pile of dead and maimed bodies have to be before the MTO will act?????
3/7/2014 3:47:44 PM
p.o.ed taxpayer says:
You are absolutely right about the MTO. Years ago I attended a public meeting that had been called about the Twin City Crossroads & Arthur St. intersection. This stretch of the highway had a number of fatal and serious accidents. The intersection at that time was uncontrolled, as anyone travelling there knows there is a truck stop, a couple of truck dealers as well as other business all of which access directly onto the 80 km highway. The MTO rep refused to even discuss lowering the speed limit or installing lights....again the reason was they did study's and figured it wasn't needed...They give some of these guys too much authority, some of the requests to them could easily be met by some budget priority adjustments
3/7/2014 5:33:19 PM
whatelseisnew says:
Lights on top of lights. Ground breaking! When are people going to start taking on responsibility for themselves when behind a wheel? If its not one thing its another and excuse after excuse on why they couldn't focus on the road. Keep it up people and next thing you know RADIOS will be banned because that will be the new distraction that's killing 50K plus drivers a year. Its getting pathetic real fast on blaming everything because people have got so lazy its a choir to use your eyes to do this thing called LOOKING.
3/10/2014 8:27:50 PM
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