Hampton resident Jodi Leblanc has been concerned for years about the intersection of William Bell Drive, Highway 100 and Lakeside Road.
A few weeks ago, her worry turned to panic.
Leblanc’s son, Zack Leblanc, 20, and a friend were on William Bell Drive heading to Saint John to see the new Spider-Man movie on the evening of December 17th. As they approached the intersection, a car suddenly pulled up from Lakeside. Road, where there is a stop sign.
In less than half an hour, Leblanc received a call at work from her husband, Mark.
“He said ‘Zack had a really big accident and I’m on my way,’” she said.
Leblanc immediately walked over to her, and when she saw the crumpled cars at the intersection, her heart sank.
“I wouldn’t expect anyone to walk after what I saw. The mess the cars left at this intersection was horrible.”
Miraculously, there were no deaths. Leblanc’s son and the other driver had broken ribs and Zack’s friend was not injured.
Leblanc spent the first few weeks after the accident making sure his son was okay. But now she turns her attention to the problematic intersection.
“It’s a horrible area for accidents,” she said, noting that she has seen several accidents there over the years, some of them fatal.
“There are no obstacles, it’s a very open area, I just don’t understand how there are so many accidents there.”
With the growth of Hampton and the increasingly busy roads, she fears the problem will only get worse.
At the very least, she said, she would like to see full traffic lights installed there to replace the flashing amber lights. Ideally, she would like to see it undergo a complete overhaul.
Officials agree something needs to be done
Several officials agree with Leblanc that something must be done.
The question is what, exactly.
Hampton MP Gary Crossman said he heard about the crash on social media and met Hampton Mayor Robert Doucet at the scene the next day.
They discussed the concerns and “possible solutions,” Crossman said, but final decisions will rest with the City of Hampton and the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.
Doucet said those wheels are already in motion.
“I have been concerned about this intersection for some time now,” the mayor said in an email, noting that he had heard from residents who were also concerned – even more since this latest crash.
According to the most recent data from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, there were six collisions at the intersection between 2014 and 2018.
Doucet believes speed is a factor in some of the crashes, although there is no indication that either driver was involved in the crash in which Leblanc’s son was involved in speeding.
“I think it’s underestimated” by some drivers, he said. “This needs to be resolved as soon as possible.”
Doucet said he was considering various options to discuss with council, including traffic lights, rough stripes as they approach the intersection and a roundabout.
“I think a roundabout could work better and keep traffic going,” he said.
But before any of these changes can be made, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure will need to assess the intersection, said Jeremy Trevors, head of communications.
The department will also review and analyze traffic data to determine if any changes are needed, Trevors said in an email.
“As to what would trigger changes, a review would typically involve looking at current geometry, traffic volumes, collision history, existing control signage, markings, posted speed, prevailing speeds and behavior. driver to name a few, ”he said.
In the meantime, Leblanc said she felt grateful but also uncomfortable.
Her son is still in pain and suffering from headaches, but he is home and back to work.
It could have been a lot worse.
“It was so close to Christmas, it could have been a disaster for so many people,” said Leblanc. “I look at him and I am so grateful that he is still with us.
“But I think about it all the time, about what could be done at this intersection.”