Chatham Street North and South Road Reconfiguration – Story Street to Marlborough Street South

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The Municipality of Chatham-Kent Engineering and Transportation Division is proposing to implement a ‘Road Reconfiguration’ project for Chatham Street North and South in Blenheim from Story Street to Marlborough Street South. This project, subject to Council’s approval, is planned to be implemented in the fall of 2020.


This Road Reconfiguration project is similar to a ‘Road Diet’ type project which is a new innovative road line-painting project that is recommended through the Municipality’s Transportation Master Plan and Cycling Master Plan. The process is a very cost effective way to improve the efficiency, safety and overall transportation network for the Municipality’s main arterial roads.


This project will consist of converting the existing 2 lanes into 3 lanes. The existing cross section of this road consists of only one single centreline with very wide north/south through lanes. The proposed 3 lanes will include 2 north/south continuous through lanes, a center left turn lane and 2 bike lanes on each side. Based on the Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) volumes, this approach is strongly supported through Highway Traffic Design Guidelines and Best Practices to again improve the efficiency, safety and overall transportation network. In addition to the successful implementation along Margaret Street in Wallaceburg, this process has also seen great success in many other Municipalities for a number of years now.


In addition to improving the flow of traffic and overall safety for all forms of transportation, this Road Reconfiguration is being recommended to improve:


  • The intersections at Talbot Street – The installation of a center left turn lane will greatly improve the flow of traffic and turning movements at this intersection which has been a concern brought to the Municipality for a number of years now from the public.
  • Alleviate concerns with left turns into the number of residential and commercial dwellings (driveways) throughout the corridor – The centre left turn lane will allow for a safe refuge area for motorists to enter before turning left thereby not holding back traffic in a through lane.
  • The lane reconfiguration proposed will require the entire road width. Therefore, the current on-street parking permitted on Chatham Street South between Talbot Street and Marlborough Street will need to be removed.


The benefit of implementing this project now is to follow behind Chatham Street North and South’s planned road resurfacing slated for completion in October, 2020. Concerns and general comments for Council’s information will be received by emailing ckinfo@chatham-kent.ca, by calling 519-360-1998 or by downloading and sending the comment form supplied as a PDF in the Documents section of this page. Please include your address and phone number as well as the subject ‘Chatham Street North and South Road Reconfiguration’ in the subject line. Comments and concerns will be accepted up to September 30, 2020. This project is proposed to go before Council on October 19, 2020 for consideration which will summarize all of the comments received from the public.


What is a Road Diet/Road Reconfiguration?


A Road Diet is roadway reconfiguration used to increase safety and livability at a low cost. Implementing Road Diets improves mobility and accessibility for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transportation passengers. Road Diets come in different configurations. The most common configuration turns a four-lane road (two lanes each direction) into a two-lane road with a left-turn lane in the middle.

Common misconceptions with Road Diets:


  • Myth #1: A Road Diet may divert traffic from the area affecting economic growth

o This is false. A Road Diet can drastically improve a corridor’s quality of life and the appeal or “livability” of an area. Livability is a term used to describe the tie between the quality and location of transportation facilities to broader opportunities such as access to jobs, affordable housing, and safer streets, which all promote economic development. For the majority of Road Diets, the Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) remains constant.


  • Myth #2: If you remove travel lanes, then traffic will backup

o This is false. Road Diets typically do not adversely affect travel times within a corridor; rather, clearing clogged travel lanes of left-turning traffic actually improves operations. For example, when a corridor has numerous access points (driveways), the majority of through traffic tends to utilize the outside travel lanes to avoid being delayed by left-turning vehicles slowing and stopping in the inside travel lanes. These four-lane corridors essentially behave like a three-lane road. As such, when these four-lane corridors are converted to a three-lane section, they are unlikely to increase congestion.


  • Myth #3: Road Diets are too narrow for large vehicles

o This is false. Many Road Diets do not narrow existing lanes while others may only narrow lanes slightly. In all cases, engineers ensure that lanes are still wide enough to accommodate large vehicles like freight trucks, farm equipment, school buses, and transit buses. In fact, Road Diets present an opportunity to re-plan the roadway space for large vehicles by including improved intersection turning radii. Road Diets can also incorporate wider shoulders, which increase the space between pedestrians and large vehicles


  • Myth #4: Road Diets delay emergency response times

o This is false. Road Diets can improve emergency response times. Multi-lane undivided roads can be awkward and unsafe for emergency responders, and can slow response times. Drivers are often uncertain about where to go to allow emergency responders to pass. If the outside travel lane has traffic, inside-lane drivers cannot pull over until they see where space remains. Sometimes inside-lane drivers move over only slightly and stop. Emergency vehicle drivers may thread a path somewhere along the center of the roadway if they are able to move at all. A two-way left-turn lane and wide shoulder areas allow traffic to move aside more quickly. The center turn-lane provides a predictable path for the emergency response vehicle. Left-turning vehicles in the center lane often have the ability to clear the way, by either executing their left-turn or by moving to the right, when other vehicles have stopped. Additional “free space” provided by Road Diets in the form of wider shoulders or bicycle lanes can also accommodate vehicles yielding to emergency response vehicles.

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent Engineering and Transportation Division is proposing to implement a ‘Road Reconfiguration’ project for Chatham Street North and South in Blenheim from Story Street to Marlborough Street South. This project, subject to Council’s approval, is planned to be implemented in the fall of 2020.


This Road Reconfiguration project is similar to a ‘Road Diet’ type project which is a new innovative road line-painting project that is recommended through the Municipality’s Transportation Master Plan and Cycling Master Plan. The process is a very cost effective way to improve the efficiency, safety and overall transportation network for the Municipality’s main arterial roads.


This project will consist of converting the existing 2 lanes into 3 lanes. The existing cross section of this road consists of only one single centreline with very wide north/south through lanes. The proposed 3 lanes will include 2 north/south continuous through lanes, a center left turn lane and 2 bike lanes on each side. Based on the Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) volumes, this approach is strongly supported through Highway Traffic Design Guidelines and Best Practices to again improve the efficiency, safety and overall transportation network. In addition to the successful implementation along Margaret Street in Wallaceburg, this process has also seen great success in many other Municipalities for a number of years now.


In addition to improving the flow of traffic and overall safety for all forms of transportation, this Road Reconfiguration is being recommended to improve:


  • The intersections at Talbot Street – The installation of a center left turn lane will greatly improve the flow of traffic and turning movements at this intersection which has been a concern brought to the Municipality for a number of years now from the public.
  • Alleviate concerns with left turns into the number of residential and commercial dwellings (driveways) throughout the corridor – The centre left turn lane will allow for a safe refuge area for motorists to enter before turning left thereby not holding back traffic in a through lane.
  • The lane reconfiguration proposed will require the entire road width. Therefore, the current on-street parking permitted on Chatham Street South between Talbot Street and Marlborough Street will need to be removed.


The benefit of implementing this project now is to follow behind Chatham Street North and South’s planned road resurfacing slated for completion in October, 2020. Concerns and general comments for Council’s information will be received by emailing ckinfo@chatham-kent.ca, by calling 519-360-1998 or by downloading and sending the comment form supplied as a PDF in the Documents section of this page. Please include your address and phone number as well as the subject ‘Chatham Street North and South Road Reconfiguration’ in the subject line. Comments and concerns will be accepted up to September 30, 2020. This project is proposed to go before Council on October 19, 2020 for consideration which will summarize all of the comments received from the public.


What is a Road Diet/Road Reconfiguration?


A Road Diet is roadway reconfiguration used to increase safety and livability at a low cost. Implementing Road Diets improves mobility and accessibility for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transportation passengers. Road Diets come in different configurations. The most common configuration turns a four-lane road (two lanes each direction) into a two-lane road with a left-turn lane in the middle.

Common misconceptions with Road Diets:


  • Myth #1: A Road Diet may divert traffic from the area affecting economic growth

o This is false. A Road Diet can drastically improve a corridor’s quality of life and the appeal or “livability” of an area. Livability is a term used to describe the tie between the quality and location of transportation facilities to broader opportunities such as access to jobs, affordable housing, and safer streets, which all promote economic development. For the majority of Road Diets, the Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) remains constant.


  • Myth #2: If you remove travel lanes, then traffic will backup

o This is false. Road Diets typically do not adversely affect travel times within a corridor; rather, clearing clogged travel lanes of left-turning traffic actually improves operations. For example, when a corridor has numerous access points (driveways), the majority of through traffic tends to utilize the outside travel lanes to avoid being delayed by left-turning vehicles slowing and stopping in the inside travel lanes. These four-lane corridors essentially behave like a three-lane road. As such, when these four-lane corridors are converted to a three-lane section, they are unlikely to increase congestion.


  • Myth #3: Road Diets are too narrow for large vehicles

o This is false. Many Road Diets do not narrow existing lanes while others may only narrow lanes slightly. In all cases, engineers ensure that lanes are still wide enough to accommodate large vehicles like freight trucks, farm equipment, school buses, and transit buses. In fact, Road Diets present an opportunity to re-plan the roadway space for large vehicles by including improved intersection turning radii. Road Diets can also incorporate wider shoulders, which increase the space between pedestrians and large vehicles


  • Myth #4: Road Diets delay emergency response times

o This is false. Road Diets can improve emergency response times. Multi-lane undivided roads can be awkward and unsafe for emergency responders, and can slow response times. Drivers are often uncertain about where to go to allow emergency responders to pass. If the outside travel lane has traffic, inside-lane drivers cannot pull over until they see where space remains. Sometimes inside-lane drivers move over only slightly and stop. Emergency vehicle drivers may thread a path somewhere along the center of the roadway if they are able to move at all. A two-way left-turn lane and wide shoulder areas allow traffic to move aside more quickly. The center turn-lane provides a predictable path for the emergency response vehicle. Left-turning vehicles in the center lane often have the ability to clear the way, by either executing their left-turn or by moving to the right, when other vehicles have stopped. Additional “free space” provided by Road Diets in the form of wider shoulders or bicycle lanes can also accommodate vehicles yielding to emergency response vehicles.