City aims to retract speed limit reduction on Eighth Line

(Photo by Adelle Loiselle)

Four months after agreeing to reduce the speed limit on Eighth Line through Bloomfield Road, the municipality is now looking to backtrack on that decision.

In August council passed a motion to reduce the speed limit on the 800 m stretch of rural road from 80 kilometres per hour to 60 km/h. Councillor Trevor Thompson was the originator of the motion.

According to Thompson, many residents who lived on the road came to him concerned that there was a risk for accidents in the area.  Thompson defended the concerns, arguing that many vehicles use Eighth Line as an alternative route when Hwy. 401 is closed and that the road wasn’t built for the increased traffic volumes.

Even though the motion passed, signs indicating the new speed limit were never installed.

“It never went down to 60 which is what residents who live in close proximity to the intersection wanted. They didn’t feel it was safe, there were numerous near misses and there were noise complaints,” said Thompson.

Now, during city council on Monday night, the municipality will push to retract the speed reduction and keep it at 80 km/h.

According to the engineering department, the traffic increase on Eighth Line was caused by the closing of the Charing Cross Road overpass and traffic volumes have normalized since the reopening of the overpass and noted that Chatham-Kent Police have received zero speeding or noise complaints from Eighth Line between 2017 and 2018. Engineering also said that through public information meetings and traffic studies, they learned that there was an equal number of residents not in favour of the speed reduction, citing concern about the noise generated from decelerating vehicles.

Regardless of whether the speed limit changes or stays the same, Councillor Thompson said he understands it can be a balancing act to make everyone happy and said this isn’t an issue he ever wanted the city to spend so much time on.

“The community residents brought it forward to me and it’s my job to bring it forward to Chatham-Kent council. It’s a really minor thing and it’s a frustrating point for me,” said Thompson. “Such a minor issue that we get caught up in and we spend far too much time and far too much money going over and over it when we could be dealing with bigger issues.”