There is hope that trucks will be stopped from travelling through Petrolia’s downtown.
Roseanne Orcutt, Volunteer Business Group Chair Denise Thibeault and Dave Hext have been leading the fight to stop transports from using the county road unless they have business in town. It has been a concern for a number of years but recently there was renewed hope the county might consider the move after it began an study on the issue.
The county heard from 51 people and talked to neighbouring municipalities as well as “stakeholders” in industry.
A report by Public Works Manager Jason Cole says there were a number of issues identified including pedestrian and traffic safety, speeding trucks, and damage to the roadway. Cole also heard from neighbouring communities which are concerned the traffic will end up on their roads, people who wondered if a bylaw stopping trucks in the downtown would be effective and others who say county roads are built for transports and they shouldn’t be restricted from them.
“Although the County has little technical evidence, it is clear there is a strong local concern that commercial traffic travelling through the Town of Petrolia is creating unsafe conditions and is no longer compatible with the other functions in the downtown core,” says Cole in his report. “It is unclear how much truck traffic will be reduced by imposing restrictions on the 50 to 200 trucks per day that are being targeted,” he says adding “while OPP are willing to assist with implementation of the bylaw restrictions, compliance may require a level of enforcement that is currently not available.”
And he says by restricting trucks on another road – Lakeshore Road is already a no go zone for transports – the county road network won’t be as effective for commercial traffic.
Cole is recommending the road stay as it is and that the county works with the Town of Petrolia on some of the other issues.
But Lambton County politicians have a different view. Many, including Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriott and Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley, recognized the unique nature of the narrow street and felt that trucks should not be using the street as a throughfare.
The committee is recommending that a two- year trial truck ban be placed on Petrolia Line once this year’s construction is complete. They also want to make sure the county puts up enough signs just off the 402 to make drivers aware of the ban on transports without business in the downtown.
The recommendation goes to county council May 4.
Orcutt and her committee were at Wednesday’s county committee meeting to hear the political discussion about the report .
She likes the political direction. “It does not make sense that these trucks that are not stopping in Petrolia, go through the heart of Petrolia,” she says adding nearby county roads such as Churchill and Courtright Line have “less traffic delays and a better speed limit than Petrolia Line.
“The residents of Petrolia see it as a catastrophe waiting to happen and the administration at the county building doesn’t seem to see that,” says Orcutt “We’ll have to do a better job of getting them to see it because it is a catastrophe waiting to happen.”
She adds the purpose of bylaws are to help “local communities have a quality of life and help them grow and thrive and monster trucks going down the main street are definitely making it difficult.”