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Proposed Victoria Avenue roundabout likely to be halted

Traffic study deems roundabout on Victoria Avenue at Ford Street is unnecessary.
Victoria roundabout sign
(tbnewswatch file photograph)

THUNDER BAY – Plans to install a roundabout on Victoria Avenue appear to have hit a stop sign.

Thunder Bay city administration is recommending that a potential roundabout on the south side arterial roadway at Ford Street be abandoned, instead proposing to place a pedestrian crossover at that intersection and remove the traffic signal lights at Lillie Street.

"We did have to do our due diligence to make sure the roundabout was actually needed at that location," said Coun. Shelby Ch'ng, who represents the Northwood ward where the initially proposed roundabout is located, adding traffic flowed smoother when the lights were covered.

"To close the infrastructure gap, we need to think about doing roads and construction differently. Having said that, the traffic study pointed to no controlled intersection, which means we save the $200,000-plus on the traffic lights as well.

The original proposal from city administration was to eliminate the lights at Lillie Street, converting the portion of the roadway extending north from Victoria Avenue to St. Joseph's Care Group and Matawa Learning Centre facilities to a one-way street, and creating a roundabout at the nearby Ford Street intersection. The roundabout was meant to address concerns about Thunder Bay Transit buses being able to timely exit Lillie Street back onto Victoria Avenue, and for pedestrian access.

The five-week traffic study, conducted by city staff, deactivated the existing set of lights and replaced them with stop signs for vehicles on Lillie Street. Both Lillie and Ford streets will continue to have two-way traffic. 

"From this study, it was evident that gap times were not impacted by the signalizing of the Lillie Street intersection and by removing the traffic signals the delay times improved considerably," the report reads. "This translates into improved access for drivers getting onto Victoria Avenue when Lillie Street is not signalized and is only under stop control."

Thunder Bay Transit also monitored the effects during the study, concluding there was no increased delay and that there was a positive gain in route times by not having to wait for the lights.

An August 2018 count along Victoria Avenue found there were 66 pedestrians crossing daily at Lillie Street and 98 at Ford Street.

The report is scheduled to be brought to Thunder Bay city council on May 6.

Matt Vis

About the Author: Matt Vis

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Matt is honoured to tell the stories of his hometown.
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