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OPP asks city for help to reduce collisions on University Ave.

'It's not an overnight thing, (but we'll) try anything we can do to assist and support to try to reduce collisions and reduce speed,' says Orillia OPP official
Between November 2020 and August 2022, there have been 52 collisions in the University Avenue and Old Barrie Road area, say OPP officials, both near the intersection and along University Avenue.

The Orillia OPP detachment commander has requested the city implement safety measures to lower the number of collisions in the University Avenue and Old Barrie Road area.

In a recent letter to city council, Insp. Coyer Yateman noted there have been 52 motor vehicle collisions in the general area between November 2020 and August 2022.

“The challenge with University Avenue is it's a four-lane roadway, and you've got a couple of large businesses right in that area,” Yateman told OrilliaMatters.

Yateman noted the constant flow of traffic from Old Barrie Road making right turns onto University Avenue, and the difficulty of making left turns onto University Avenue as hazards in the area.

He also said the downhill grade of Old Barrie Road slightly impedes vision, and that traffic coming onto University Avenue generally travels at a higher rate of speed and have two lanes to choose from.

“The reason for this letter was the challenge of getting in and out of Swinimer Drive from University, which would be the same challenge as the West Orillia Sports Complex … turning left from that intersection can be a challenge with the roadway being four lanes and the volume of traffic that is on that piece of road, as well.”

As a result, Yateman has requested the city consider limiting right turns onto University Avenue, from the intersection at Old Barrie Road, to when there is a green light only.

In his letter, he said 49 of the 52 collisions took place between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., and suggested the measure could be in place during certain hours.

“If you have multiple vehicles coming from the university side of the road, and you're trying to turn left (from Swinimer), you have to wait for a break in traffic that way,” he said. “If you have a constant flow of traffic coming from Old Barrie Road, even with the red light … it's a constant flow of traffic; it’s less likely you'll be able to turn safely (on the other side).”

Yateman previously requested a set of traffic lights for the south entrance of Swinimer Drive, which has not happened, but he has since learned a set of traffic lights will eventually be installed at the north entrance of the road.

In the meantime, he hopes to find other methods to improve safety in the area.

“It's not an overnight thing, (but we’ll) try anything we can do to assist and support to try to reduce collisions and reduce speed,” he said.

At last Monday’s council meeting, city politicians referred Yateman’s letter to the city’s development services and engineering department to report back on options for reducing collisions in the area.

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Greg McGrath-Goudie

About the Author: Greg McGrath-Goudie

Greg has been with Village Media since 2021, where he has worked as an LJI reporter for CollingwoodToday, and now as a city hall/general assignment reporter for OrilliaMatters
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