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NEWSTALK 1010 GETS ACTION: Province to make changes to problem Mississauga intersection

We first reported back in April that accidents spiked by 53 per cent after the province made changes to the area of Hurontario St and the QEW

Following a NEWSTALK 1010 investigation, the province has decided to make changes to a problem intersection in Mississauga, one of the busiest spots in the city.

We first reported back in April, that accidents at the interchanges at Hurontario St and the QEW spiked 53 per cent after the ministry of transportation changed the design and added new sets of lights in 2009.

Along a stretch of 400m between North and South Service Rds, there are now three sets of lights. Local residents and drivers complain the design has been causing a lot of traffic congestion.

In addition to the traffic, Peel police say they received 95 calls for service along that short stretch of Hurontario St in 2012. There were 62 accidents in 2008, the year before new lights were added.

Local firefighters tell Newstalk 1010 most of the calls are for accidents at the intersection just north of the QEW where lights and a left turn onto the highway were added. A source says it is the left turn that is the problem, and a dent in the guardrail shows where some of the vehicles end up after being involved in an accident.

Many drivers and local residents complain of the area.

"It's ludicrous," Inge Taylor, a 26-year resident, says of the redesigned interchanges. When the province made the changes in 2009, she says, "We were really, really upset."

She adds the area was perfectly fine without the lights.

LISTEN to an in-depth report from NEWSTALK 1010's Justine Lewkowicz: 

Casey says she avoids the area whenever she can.

"It's too short of an intersection so we all get backed up," she says. "It gets a little ridiculous."

Dino witnessed one of the accidents at the problem interchange earlier this year. He says he has found several problem spots in Mississauga and has complained to local politicians.

"You know, everyone passes the buck. 'Oh, the speeds on that road, they're the region's responsiblity, they're the city's responsibility,' " Dino says.

Ministry of transportation staff say the province owns the highway interchanges and is responsible for design. The city is responsible for maintenance, including adjusting the timing of the lights.

The ministry told Newstalk 1010 in February it was not aware of any problems in the area.

After seeing our story earlier this year, ministry staff launched a review and have decided to make changes.

"We discovered that specifically for the northbound left-turning motorists, there was an opportunity to improve the safety," says ministry spokesperson Astrid Poei.

At the north ramp terminal intersection, a fully protected left-turn phase will be added, or a separate light to prevent contact between cars turning left and those going straight through the intersection.

The middle lane on the westbound off-ramp will also be converted from a shared left/right to a right-turn lane only.

The ministry will prepare the design and the city will oversee the construction work. The cost will be covered by the province, but Poei says an estimate is not being released to allow for a fair competitive bid process.

The changes are not enough to satisfy Taylor, whose husband fought the design brought in four years ago during public consultations.

"I just want to tell somebody, you should have left it the way it was," she says.

Another long-time area resident who attended the public consultations in 2009, Sydney Weale, says she's glad a protected left-turn light is being added.

"I think that might help," she says.

But she adds that the province should have known from the start that the interchange design, as is, would not work.

"They supposedly have all these experts on their side that are supposed to be looking into all of this before they even design these things, I thought," Weale says. "They're in the know. We have to trust them."

A local business owner, meanwhile, says he doesn't blame the ministry. Hugh Hyndman says when he complained about drivers not yielding on the on-ramp, the province added an extra sign. 

"One of the lessons is I think people need to complain a little bit more," he says. "If people don't indicate to the government... that there's an issue, then nothing will get done."

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