Franklin Roundabout Plan Still Makes Sense

January 31, 2010 at 10:14 pm 1 comment

I’m not alone on this topic I guess….

January 30, 2010

Road Ahead column by Jeff Outhit

Dear regional councillor:

It’s OK to pause until March, before endorsing 11 roundabouts up and down Franklin Boulevard in Cambridge.

This is a dramatic proposal, costing $53 million. When completed by 2016, it would convert a four-lane travel corridor into a commuter route unlike any other in Ontario.

This conversion would have a bigger impact than the five roundabouts you installed (with more to come) on Ira Needles Boulevard in Kitchener and Waterloo. Ira Needles was built with traffic circles. The public knows what to expect.

So take a deep breath. But really, nothing has changed. Filling Franklin with roundabouts still makes sense.

Critics have complained of high costs, business impacts, pedestrian safety and driver frustration.

Roundabouts need space. Acquiring this space helps explain why roundabouts cost at least $7 million more than widening Franklin to six lanes.

Businesses at busy intersections would be squeezed or stripped of parking spaces. Four properties would have to be purchased outright. A popular beauty salon would be displaced.

In Kitchener, council had to demolish a strip club and relocate an automotive garage to make way for the Bridgeport roundabout.

Impacts such as these stress owners and employees. They are costly and disruptive. They are hard choices, made for the public good. The way forward is to limit impacts through proper design, establish a fair process to take property, and compensate fairly.

Pedestrians will fare better with roundabouts, compared to widening the busy road.

Traffic circles reduce intersection speeds, shorten crossing distances by half, and compel drivers and pedestrians to pay attention. This improves safety more effectively than relying on traffic signals to guide pedestrians across monster intersections.

Drivers will no longer be able to catch a wave of green lights and cruise the road at top speed for long stretches. They will have to slow down and exercise their judgment repeatedly, in circle after circle. This will frustrate some motorists who like the comfort of driving on autopilot. But they will become better drivers for it.

If not roundabouts, what then?

Critics have suggested widening Franklin (to make it like hated Hespeler Road), adding traffic signals (unwarranted and ineffective), improving traffic signals (limited impact), doing nothing (the road is already overwhelmed), and diverting traffic to an east-side bypass route not yet built (an old proposal that’s gone nowhere).

So by all means, think it over. But now is not the time to lose your nerve.

Jeff Outhit can be reached at 519-895-5642 or



Entry filed under: Cambridge, Waterloo Region.

Decision Deferred on Franklin Boulevard Roundabouts Main Street Bridge to be Wrapped in Yarn?

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. John  |  March 9, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Well, time for some road rage! You thought cambridge drivers were rude at 4-way stops! Prepare for the mass onslaught of accidents, beatings and violence that this is going to create. Trust me, we can barely handly a 4-way stop without cutting each other off. Heck, even the roundabout on can-amera which only has 3 enterances causes a lot of stress and anger.

    BRING IT ON B@!#@!#!!

    Franklin will now literally be, the most dangerous place to drive in all of north america.

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