Recent signs of construction on Niagara Stone Road in Virgil is good news for locals — it’s the start of the installation of lights at Field Road and the entrance to the new plaza.
The majority of the cost of the four-way traffic signal is being paid for by the developer of the plaza, Greg Chew, who has contributed $200,000 to the Region for the installation.
The Region will take responsibility for a small part of the project, said traffic systems manager Nick Rosati, who estimated the lights will be up and operational by the end of April.
Even with “unexpected delays,” he said, the middle of May would be the latest, “definitely before the start of tourist season.”
The lights are part of a larger project to improve Niagara Stone Road, with road-widening along that stretch expected in 2020 or later.
“This traffic signal will drastically improve vehicular and pedestrian safety. Many residents have been crossing Niagara Stone Road between Line 1 and Four Mile Creek for years to go shopping or to the bank and it was reminiscent of an old video game called Frogger,” said Chew.
“With the support of the Region, town staff, the former town council and the developer’s contribution this safety measure is now a becoming a reality.”
It’s about time, said Martin Mazza, owner of Italian Pizza and Subs on Niagara Stone Road.
He’s been watching pedestrians try to cross the street at that location for years, he said — they wait and wait, and finally make a run for it.
It will also benefit motorists trying to turn left, he added.
What he doesn’t understand is why it’s taken so long for the Region to get moving on the installation.
“They’ve had the money for a while, so it’s not like they’re paying for it. They could have put the wiring in last fall and been ready to get the lights up before the LCBO opened. Instead they’re just getting started.”
Construction began last week, with holes bored for the wiring before the lights can be installed. A hydro pole also had to be moved, he said.
Phil Leboudec of Phil’s Valu-mart said he’s looking forward to having the lights installed by summer, when the traffic increases. Left turns can be difficult now, he said, and become impossible later on.
As for safety, he said, he’s never seen an accident at that location, “but it will be easier.”