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Roundabout called preferred plan to fix three-legged town hill intersection

A roundabout is being touted as the preferred plan to fix challenges at the three-legged Town Hill intersection in Picton.

During a second public meeting this week, BT Engineering Inc., presented findings from its Environmental Assessment Study that evaluated alternatives. The first meeting was held in May.

Three preliminary designs were included: Conventional traffic signals; a roundabout and an offset southbound left turn in advance of the hill (one- southbound approach on north leg) but this was not recommended to move forward.

The public information boards stated the evaluation of alternatives considered input from agencies, stakeholders and the public and considered the engineering and other advantages and disadvantages.

Additional improvements with the roundabout plan were said to be the removal of the hydro pole on the sidewalk on the south side of the intersection with buried service connections to 2 Bridge Street; relocation of the fire hydrant to the back of the sidewalk on the north side and removal of two on-street parking spaces on the southwest.

The study was designed to look at potential solutions that will expand on the short-term actions recently completed.
In 2021, the municipality began work identified by the Ministry of Transportation to improve safety. That project included line markings, a retaining wall and cantilevered sign and was funded 90 per cent by a provincial Connecting Links grant. The total cost was $296,498, of which $266,848 was paid by the provincial funding program.

The County’s Transportation Master Plan (2021) stated “Challenges that arise from the current configuration and operation of the intersection include confusion among all users, safety concerns for all users, suppression of walking and cycling, delay for all road users, and the concern that Bridge Street is steep enough that trucks could roll backwards if they were
to stop at this intersection.”

The previous term of council approved in 2022 the capital budget for the study.

Municipal staff are to continue exploring funding opportunities and will consider a project to present to council in future budget years.

The study will conclude with a Project File report and the public has a 30-day review period ending Oct. 20.

Submit questions or comments to:
Steve Taylor, BT Engineering at


Jeff Shortt, PEC Project Manager at


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  1. SS says:

    In the City of Hamilton, there is a very similar situation there in terms of one of the “legs” being a hill with a steep grade.

    The intersection is at the corner of Barton St. W. and Bay St. N. It is a 4-way intersection rather than our 3-legged one, but the principles are the same in terms of the steep grade factor.

    The approach to this intersection on one of the streets is a hill of a similar grade as Town Hill.

    If you do a search for the address “128 Barton St. W. Hamilton Ontario” and then use the Street View feature to look around that intersection and its approaches, you can see that there is a traffic light at the bottom of the hill on Barton St. W., controlling the traffic going up the hill.

    That traffic light at the bottom of the hill communicates with the traffic light at the top of the hill.

    The City of Hamilton designed this solution precisely because of the dangers of traffic going up the hill, having to slow down or stop. This is a School Bus and truck route, and many of the trucks are standard shift.

    My wife drove to work up that hill for years, and I drove a School Bus on that route also. There were never any issues and I believe the traffic light at the bottom was a “smart” light, so it stayed Red unless there was a vehicle waiting.

    I never heard anyone complain over the six years that we lived and worked in that area, about any of the approaches to the intersection. The traffic volume was higher there almost all year round than the peak tourist season we have here.

    Although I am a huge fan of roundabouts (think 62 and Schoharie Rd as a great candidate), I think this proposed one at the top of Town Hill will be wholly unsatisfactory. And not for cost reasons, but for safety reasons.

  2. Argyle says:

    Just wait until an ambulance, fire, police or first responders encounter heavy summer traffic at the proposed roundabout while attempting to answer an emergency call, remembering that most drivers simply do not get out of the way and pull over. Besides, where will drivers pull over to?

  3. Gary says:

    A Bypass that you speak of was proposed by a former Mayoral candidate prior to his unfortunate death. It didn’t resonate as businesses rejected. Really, those that want to shop Picton, come. Those loaded with big RV’s with cheap Quebec beer head directly to the Park and the quicker the better!

  4. ADJ says:

    Not sure a roundabout would work from a hill entry. In ground heating sounds expensive and only for the 6 mos. of winter? This thing is going to take up a lot of real estate…where exactly is that going to fit? On top of the Hill? Would the traffic travelling from east to west on Main str. have a separate travel route from the roundabout? Right now there is “room” for two vehicles side by side., one going up west Main the other is signalling to go down the Hill.
    Perhaps consider an alternate one way route to upper Main str. and avoid the Hill entirely. (Elk str. or the other one) Many upgrades needed here first.
    Why wasn’t the old rail bed considered as another route around the Main str. of Picton? Heavy trucks and tourist off of the 49 highway could have accessed at the White Chapel area and then moved west…same for east direction traffic from Wellington etc.
    If the local taxpayer is footing the bill for this roundabout circle just to please the tourist traffic then upgrade 49 and set a toll.

  5. Mark Woodward says:

    Signage has failed miserably at dangerous intersection sites. Who reads multiple signs, when driving. That is another accident waiting to happen.

  6. Angus Ross says:

    It is unfortunate that the alternatives being looked at by the consultants did not include improved signage on Main Street. That would be the cheapest and most effective solution to a problem that has had few accidents in its current state.
    Traffic lights simply wouldn’t work – stopped traffic on the hill in winter is not a good idea.
    A roundabout, whilst viable in theory, would not be effective in practice for the following reasons:
    1. Because priority is given to traffic in the roundabout there would still be stoppages for traffic coming up the hill.
    2. The proposal to have a heated hill would simply pool water to freeze and create dangerous conditions at the foot of the hill.
    3. The total cost of the project is probably around $5 million (the $2 million estimate does NOT include buying out the properties that would be needed for the roundabout). The County has many other uses for that kind of money.
    4. Pedestrian crossings at a roundabout on a hill are an accident waiting to happen and would also cause up-hill traffic stoppages.
    5. A quick Google search on siting a roundabout on a hill indicates that jurisdictions around the globe show a grade of 2 to 5% as being the limit for a roundabout. Town hill far exceeds that.
    6. The construction time during which one of the principal routes into/out of Picton would be out of service is probably at least a year.

    Signs on Main Street approaching the junction indicating “STOP!! HILL TRAFFIC HAS PRIORITY!” would not impede traffic flow and would cost probably 10% of the roundabout proposal without requiring long-term construction delays.

    Throwing vast sums of money at an almost non-existent problem is not good financial management.

  7. Lou says:

    Agreed that 49 should be getting this attention, and $$

  8. Nigel J. Sivel says:

    Round about at the top of town hill…silly idea. Put up proper signs….fix highway 49 instead before someone get seriously hurt on that road.

  9. David says:

    Round abouts solve a lot of traffic issues. Have travelled through many, especially in Europe. But for the town hill it would create a dangerous and frustrating situation. Imagine on a winter day driving a school bus, or transport or a standard shift car up the hill and having to yield to traffic in the circle, then attempting to move forward into the circle and start slipping sideways or backwards!

    And the worst idea….having cross walks! Cross walks in a round about are dangerous at the best of times, but going up the hill and turning right into the first exit at a steady speed and suddenly a pedestrian steps out! Much like now, when tourists cross at the top of the hill and you come around the corner! Yikes!

    The current intersection works. Very few accidents (unlike 62 and 1). Why are we spending so much money for visitors? Improve the signage to explain who has the right of way, even if it is flashing digital sign indicating that vehicles coming up the hill have the right of way. And place barriers at each sidewalk to discourage pedestrians from crossing at the top.

  10. Henri Garand says:

    Never having witnessed an accident or even a close call at this intersection, I wonder how often they occur. Is council going to spend $2+ million because drivers are slightly confused, won’t slow down, and object to taking an extra ten seconds to make a turn? I might add that roads are designed for motorists. Safe pedestrian crossings should be located elsewhere than a busy intersection.

  11. JennyD says:

    Readers are lead to believe this is a pedestrian crossing. It is currently not a marked or designated pedestrian crossing. And it never was for very good reasons. There are plenty of those on main street. Why is there an idea that local tax dollars be spent to accommodate visitors, tourists or lazy people? If anything, at the very most, change the signage, and add another cross walk where appropriate, but not at the top of the town hill, and certainly not three. I’m tired of paying for foolishness to accommodate a consultant study, that when put into practice, is neither logical or actionable. If PEC wants to throw money away, hire more police to enforce the HTA and POA. Traffic coming up the hill doesn’t have the right of way despite the rules because people aren’t or can’t read the signs. This idea is absurd and costly. Should have put a bypass route in years ago when it was being suggested, and would have saved some money and had it built by now.

  12. Margo MacNaughton says:

    Willow’s comments are spot on.
    Just install level signage well back from the intersection .
    “STOP – HILL Has RIGHT OF WAY”..what more should one need?
    Winter will be a disaster worthy of Becoming A New SPECTATOR SPORT! An off season tourist favorite..

  13. Mark R. says:

    I think a roundabout is a great idea, and can’t wait to see it implemented. The current intersection is not pedestrian-friendly at all. A roundabout will be so much safer, more efficient for drivers, and give downtown a distinctive charm and personality that will keep tourists coming back which is vital for our local economy and long term sustainability.

  14. Sharon McAlpine says:

    A roundabout should not be needed if people knew or know how to drive & understand road signs. People coming up the Picton hill have the right of way. It has been this way long before I was born. County residents know this. And I agree with another reader that Hwy 49 should be what is important as it’s an awful road to use

  15. Willow says:

    re the comment from Dick, the roundabout plan “provides for a better turning lane but allows for a significant permanent improvement to a viewing area of Picton Bay and could be a small park connected to the existing park beside Shire Hall.”

    In future I see distracted drivers in the roundabout not paying attention to the road but rather looking at the beautiful view of Picton Bay or focusing on someone or something in the proposed park area, ending in a collision with another vehicle, or worse, a pedestrian on the crosswalk.

    The engineer info provided from Sean seems clear that it is not recommended to construct a roundabout that has an intersecting steep grade, such as Bridge Street.

    CountyProud had a good suggestion, “STOP – The Hill Has The Right of Way”. Simple and very cost effective.

    My final comment on all this. If this roundabout does go through I may ask the County for two things, 1) install bleechers in the park, 2) ask for a vendor’s permit that I may sell popcorn, candy floss, hot dogs etc to those that sit at the park to watch all the fun in the roundabout. Maybe hot chocolate for the cooler weather.

    I know of people that sit at Miss Lily’s Cafe today that go for the town hill entertainment. Fun times ahead!

  16. angela says:

    For years we have been told how vital tourism is to our economy. Would the cost of a roundabout study and possible installation of same be an example of this? Historically, locals have negotiated the Town Hill with few problems. It is our tourists who cannot seem to read signs. Now taxpayer dollars are paying for studies to determine how to make the Town Hill more user friendly for their benefit? Is this an example of how tourism contributes to our economy? One of our visitors even managed to plow into our Cenotaph. No local has ever duplicated this feat. Given the way they drive through cross-walks, do U-turns on Main Street, speed, and park in restricted areas, not to mention the Cenotaph incident we are better off without our summer guests.

  17. Mike Rodgers says:

    It is obvious that the designers of this plan have not experienced the trill of driving a large truck. This would be a disaster if built. Wet and icy roads and round about on a slope do not mix, Has anyone of the experts though to contacted the Transport Assoc. of Canada to see what their thoughts are.

  18. Kevin says:

    Unfortunately traffic lights aren’t a viable solution in the winter for obvious reasons, unless we heat the road. Perhaps an elevated roadway like the Gardiner in Toronto. That way Main St. could become one huge sheltered patio.

  19. Teena says:

    If people would just learn to drive and pay attention we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  20. Dennis Bond says:

    The one problem I see is that traffic coming up Bridge St to Main St will no longer have the right of way. This now belongs to east bound traffic on Main which guarantees more stopped cars on the Bridge St hill not less.

  21. Sean says:

    “Locating roundabouts on grades
    It is generally not desirable to locate roundabouts in locations where grades through the intersection are greater than four percent. The installation of roundabouts on roadways with grades lower than three percent is generally not problematic (6). At locations where a constant grade must be maintained through the intersection, the circulatory roadway may be constructed on a constant-slope plane. This means, for instance, that the cross slope may vary from +3 percent on the high side of the roundabout (sloped toward the central island) to -3 percent on the low side (sloped outward). Note that central island cross slopes will pass through level at a minimum of two locations for roundabouts constructed on a constant grade.

    Care must be taken when designing roundabouts on steep grades. On approach roadways with grades steeper than -4 percent, it is more difficult for entering drivers to slow or stop on the approach. At roundabouts on crest vertical curves with steep approaches, a driver’s sight lines will be compromised, and the roundabout may violate driver expectancy. However, under the same conditions, other types of at-grade intersections often will not provide better solutions. Therefore, the roundabout should not necessarily be eliminated from consideration at such a location. Rather, the intersection should be relocated or the vertical profile modified, if possible.”,generally%20not%20problematic%20(6).

  22. Viju Menon says:

    The round about is a good solution but create an alternative route for trucks and large pickups.

  23. Dick says:

    I believe the investment in the roundabout has a number of advantages. Primarily it will enhance traffic flow and presents traffic control feature to drivers that is in very common use now throughout the municipality and provincially and therefore will be familiar to the travelling public.
    In a broader context the removal of the two commercial buildings at the north east corner of Main Street not only provides for a better turning lane but allows for a significant permanent improvement to a viewing area of Picton Bay and could be a small park connected to thre existing park beside Shire Hall. This feature was proposed in a tourism enhancement plan for the Picton downtown core some years ago and would certainly be a pleasant attraction in an area adjacent to a number of street cafes and pubs.
    Two areas that I believe still present challenges are: the accommodation of safe crossing areas for the public and the staging lane for vehicles travelling up the Town Hill. Perhaps the full report deals with pedestrian traffic in more detail but crossing areas must be clearly marked and depending on the layout may impede traffic flow somewhat. In the instance of the Town Hill staging lane it may be necessary to install heating cable inlays even in the roundabout scenario because traffic may be stopped there’s if even for short periods of time.
    Finally, while the cost significantly increases for the roundabout over traffic lights the potential benefits to the Picton downtown core are enormous. We see manny businesses migrating to the western lengths of Main Street and gradually a shift in the downtown core to street cafes, pubs and typically foot traffic businesses. There is much residential development along Bridge Street on the south side of Picton Bay and in the surrounding areas. The enhancements to the eastern end of Main Street provide a feature to the town that has been proposed in the past but now provides the opportunity to seize on the vista of the Picton Bay and perhaps provide a bit more balance to development on the Main Street.The added cost would be well worth the money.
    Let’s just see what our cabinet minister MPP is disposed to advocate for in Prince Edward in terms of a significant local improvement to the area.

  24. David Thomas says:

    The property acquisitions to accommodate the roundabout makes this an expensive option even before shovels are in the ground. Surely traffic lights, with the Bridge St. light at the bottom of the hill, makes a lot more financial sense.

    Let’s use our tax dollars to fix the deplorable condition of some county roads.

  25. KB says:

    Pedestrian crossings could be placed anywhere else which would better support traffic, and increase pedestrian safety – I cannot for the life of me figure this one out. Locals don’t have a problem navigating the town hill, and neither do many regular visitors. The problem lies with people who don’t read signs and ignore their responsibilities.
    How much money is being spent on this?

  26. CountyProud says:

    How about a large sign at each side of Main Street that says something like “STOP – You Don’t Have The Right of Way” or “STOP – The Hill Has The Right of Way”. That has to cost way less and a good test to see if drivers come to understand how the intersection works.
    I cannot being to imagine the mayhem with three crosswalks – people can’t get the ones along Main Street right.

  27. Sandy says:

    Isn’t this part of the “County” charm? Let people slow down and learn. No major accidents there! It isn’t even a County Rd 1 and 62 situation. Which again is just hurry.
    You can’t manufacture a perfect world!

  28. Julia says:

    agree with Willow biggest problem is large transports coming up the hill just can’t stop and wait for other vehicles in a round about.

    yes I drive 49 everyday it is a disaster. just waiting for some camper to flip in one of the thousand pot holes

  29. Drew says:

    The existing Picton roundabout works flawlessly all year round. A pleasure to drive. Existing town hill layout (with stop/queue) has flaws, witnessed when walking Main St to the sound of car horns & screeching tires. Roundabout traffic flow seems reasonable for town hill intersection. A bonus also if property acquisition lands were made a public space / parkette.

  30. Kevin says:

    I’m thinking that we fix the culvert construction disaster on Lake St. first. Then install temporary traffic lights at the Town Hill during tourist season. Perhaps the police or the auxiliary could do some traffic control?

  31. Harry veenstra says:

    Make Main Street a one way
    Coming up the hill you must turn to the right
    Stop people who think this is a crosswalk
    Better yet
    No cars allowed on Main Street from 9 am to 7 pm
    We won’t lose much parking as patios take most anyway

  32. Dan says:

    Another option: Issue all newcomers and visitors a copy of Steve Campbell’s ‘County HandBook’. I think the explanations about how to navigate the town hill and the Tims intersection are very helpful.

  33. Sarg says:

    The problem has more to do with lack of skilled drivers, and less with the road. Just like county road 1 and hwy 62. People don’t know how to drive anymore, and don’t read signs, and are in a rush. This will be quite an undertaking for the county, residents and visitors. Hope they get it right the first time. Kudos for investing in it.

  34. KB says:

    Hope those aren’t crosswalks in the drawings. That would be a nightmare for vehicles and pedestrians.

  35. Willow says:

    I had to check my calendar to see if it was April Fools Day. It’s not and now I try and understand how anyone would think that a roundabout would fix issues at the town hill intersection.

    A few comments on the “Evaluaton of Alternatives” for a roundabout.

    “Central landscaping opportunities and beautification of downtown”. It’s a roundabout, not a tourist attraction, or is it?

    “The roundabout provides greater safety and accommodates future growth within the County.” I would really like to see the studies done after the fact on how a roundabout accomodated future growth of a town, city or rural area. I see why any business would be encouraged to start up in Picton because it has a roundabout.

    I can see the tourism ads now, “Come to Prince Edward County and be entertained at our town hill roundabout. Be entertained by death defying pedestrians crossing through, multi-language road rage and traffic queues coming up our town hill. Oh and there’s more! There’s even more fun when nature adds snow and ice to the top of the hill.”

    “Roundabouts provide improved safety for pedestrians and cyclists compared to existing conditions.” Are you kidding me? Who in their right mind would attempt crossing through that?

    “Queues for a roundabout are shorter.” Most often this is true but how many roundabouts are placed at the top of a steep incline?

    Concerns in 2021 stated, “Bridge Street is steep enough that trucks could roll backwards if they were to stop at this intersection.” This would not change with a roundabout. A vehicle already in a roundabout has the right of way. If a truck or large vehicle with trailer coming up the town hill to the roundabout has to stop to yield to traffic, rollback may occur. Add to that the queuing that may occur when the large vehicle tries to get started again to get into the roundabout.

    I may be wrong here but Council should focus on Hwy 49 with Ontario government. Then again, after being on CAA’s worst road list for years, maybe it too is a tourist attraction drawing people to the County. People want to see how bad Hwy 49 is!

    Forget the roundabout at the town hill intersection.

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