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UPDATE: Region has plans for safety measures along Lakeshore Road in NOTL

However no final decisions have been made on what those measures will be. Guard rails with hazard signs or cutting down trees are still being considered as options.
There are now two memorials on the tree on Lakeshore Road, the site of two fatal collisions a year apart.

The region is promising to act quickly on safety measures for the steep curve at Lakeshore Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Exactly what those actions might be had not yet been decided when Frank Tassone, Niagara Region’s director of transportation services, spoke to The Local Monday. While options are still being considered, more information was required before a decision could be make on how best to proceed, he explained, adding he hopes to have an answer soon, with the implementation of the solution beginning shortly after that.

Last week a young man died in an early morning collision with a tree on Lakeshore Road between Four Mile Creek Road and Niven Road — the same tree that was the site of a collision and death of a 49-year-old woman a year ago, in June 2023.

When police were called to Lakeshore Road this morning about 5 a.m., they discovered a “serious motor vehicle collision,” Const. Jesse Vujasic told The Local in an email.

Along with police, the Niagara Falls Fire Department and Niagara Emergency Medical Services were at the scene, Vujasic said, “suffering from life-threatening injuries. Tragically the male driver was pronounced deceased at a local hospital.”

The young woman who collided with a tree a year ago, alone in her car, also died on the way to the hospital. The flowers on the tree in her memory are still there, visible above the car that hit the tree this morning. Now, a memorial to the man who died last week joins hers on the tree.

“We’re taking this very seriously,” Tassone told The Local.

Regional representatives have met with town staff and council members during the last year to talk about possible solutions, and at this point, he said, “We’re looking at two things. Number one is why are vehicles leaving that portion of the road.”

The road and the curve are designed to current standards, he continued, and most recently the region has hired experts in the field of road design geometry to look at the location. They didn’t see anything about the geometry of the curve that would cause vehicles to lose control and leave the road, such as if the curve being “too abrupt” he explained.

They then have to look at why a vehicle leaves the road, whether it’s driver distraction, possible an animal on the road — that could have been behind the early morning collision last week, he speculates — or speeding, which could also be a factor, he said.

But that information is harder to come by, Tassone added. It has to be provided by the police, as a result of whatever reconstruction they carried out during their investigation of the collision. The region didn’t have that information about the recent collision from the police on Monday.

“We also look at all the historic information we have that would be enough justification for any changes to the road that might be warranted.”

Having been hit twice in a little more than a year, the tree is obviously an obstacle “that we need to do something about,” he said,  “and we’re moving towards doing something about that very quickly.”

Markers will be going up to draw identify the tree as a hazard, and “that will take us through to the decision of whether we’re going to protect that tree or whether we’re going to remove it.”

The issue is that if that tree is removed, “it likely won’t be the only tree we have to remove. So we’ll have to determine the benefits of removing a bunch of trees, or having something like the protection of a guardrail in place to ensure that no vehicle hits the tree. We’re looking at both options at this point.”

The region is aware of its responsibly to prevent serious and fatal collisions, and also to protect trees when possible. In this case, he says, as in situations where there are hydro poles that might be seen as obstacles but removal isn’t an option, guard rails can be just as effective.

He’s hoping by the end of the month “to have landed on the best option,” and will then move quickly to implement the solution, he said.

Tassone said the region has also discussed bike path along that stretch to protect pedestrians and cyclists - the road is too narrow for bike lane, especially through the curve, “which keeps bikes too close to the road. We’re looking for ways to make that safer. We’re expecting a feasibility study by the end of the summer.”

If a path is to be implemented, it won’t be until the summer of 2025, he said, because for the long of time it will take to design it, and acquire the property needed to build it. “It’s definitely an option we’re looking at.”

About the Author: Penny Coles

Penny Coles is editor of Niagara-on-the-Lake Local
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