Niagara Street On Ramp
It has been long known that the Niagara Street On Ramp has been a danger zone for a while now, and it was brought to my attention last night that any changes that are being made and any plans to make that ramp more safe for motorists are and should be a part of Emily's Legacy. She has led the way for improvements to take place, ensuring that this does not ever happen again. Tragic as it is that it had to happen this way, who knows how many lives she might have saved in the future to come. I will always think of her now as a heroine.
Niagara Street on-ramp expansion to begin May 29
Local News - Wednesday, May 17, 2006 @ 01:00
Design changes to improve safety on the niagara street on-ramp to the Toronto-bound QEW are expected to begin in two weeks.
The Ministry of Transportation has tentatively set May 29 as the start date to begin lengthening the extremely short on-ramp where a St. Catharines girl was killed last month.
The ministry expects the on-ramp to be closed for the first two weeks of a month-long reconstruction project.
St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley said he's pleased the ministry fast-tracked improvements to the ramp following the deadly crash.
The MTO eventually plans to completely revamp the niagara street ramp and bring it up to minimum safety standards as part of a larger project to widen the QEW through the city.
But that work isn't scheduled to begin until 2007 and won't be completed until 2010.
In the meantime, Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar ordered a series of interim improvements, including a redesign to more than double the length of the ramp.
"The Ministry of Transportation did not want to wait for (the highway widening project) to take place. They wanted to act quickly on this," said Bradley.
Seven-year-old Emily Phillips was killed April 11 when the car she was in was coming to a stop on the on-ramp while attempting to merge. The car was struck from behind by a minivan.
At just 160 metres long, the on-ramp is less than a third of the 500-metre minimum standard the MTO demands for ramps built today, according to ministry figures.
But the amount of space drivers actually have to accelerate to merging speed and find room to safely get onto the two-lane highway is far shorter than the ramp's overall length.
Drivers have less than 60 metres to make the move to the highway from the merge lane before it runs out, according to The Standard's measurements.
The distance from the point where the hash marks begin in the merge lane -- signalling a driver can enter the highway -- to the point where the lane ends is approximately 57 metres.
The ministry plans to increase the length of the overall ramp to about 340 metres, said spokesman Bob Nichols.
Extending the ramp will require the construction of a retaining wall between the QEW and McCalla Drive, which runs parallel to the highway, he said.
The niagara street access to the service road that leads to the on-ramp will be closed throughout the month-long project.
It will also be shut down for a further four to six weeks as the City of St. Catharines replaces a watermain along McCalla Drive.
The city needs to replace the aging watermain prior to the planned widening of the QEW, said city engineer Paul Mustard.
McCalla Drive will remain open to local traffic during construction, but will sometimes be reduced to one lane, he said.
"I think at the beginning there will be (congestion), but people will find alternate ways and gradually the traffic will spread itself out," said Mustard.
Road crews contracted by the MTO have already removed a portion of a chain-link fence separating the niagara street on-ramp from the highway to improve sight lines, and trimmed trees and shrubs in the area.
In addition, the ministry has dropped the niagara street ramp from the route that was used for road tests by all niagara drivers trying to get the final stage of their licences and seniors who need to requalify to drive.