Lincoln Alexander & Red Hill Valley Surface Data Now Available

This article contains the data from road surface testing along the Lincoln Alexander and Red Hill Valley Parkways that was conducted by Gorski Consulting on May 15, 2019. The Red Hill Valley data was obtained just before it was closed for re-surfacing.

The table below shows th data for eastbound travel on the Lincoln Alexander Parkway.

The table below shows the data for northbound travel on the Red Hill Valley Parkway.

There has been much controversy regarding the possible hiding of a report that showed the poor friction on the Red Hill Valley surface. The above tables show a different measurement of the road surface quality by examining the disturbance in the motion of the test vehicle as it travels at highway speed over the noted highway segments. Previous articles posted to this Gorski Consulting website have shown similar data for Highway 401 between London and Tilbury, as well as data along Highway 402 between London and Strathroy.

Comparing the results from those other studies the Lincoln Alexander shows the worst results, even worse that the Highway 402 data.

View looking eastbound along the Lincoln Alexander Parkway approching the Upper Sherman overpass. This view was taken on Jun 16, 2019, This was the location of the worst road surface data.

The Red Hill Valley data is slightly better than the Highway 402 data.

Further testing was completed yesterday on the Lincoln Alexander and Red Hill Valley Parkways in response to a complaint that the newly paved Red Hill was deficient. That data is yet to be organized and analysed. However, as mentioned earlier, there was no indication during the testing that the surface caused unusually high levels of disturbance to the test vehicle. The photos below show some of the Red Hill Valley surface after it was repaved. These views were taken on June 16, 2019.

View looking northward on the newly repaved surface of the Red Hill Valley Parkway. This view was taken on June 16, 2019.

This northward view along the Red Hill Valley Parkway shows the approach to King Street on June 16, 2019.

This northward view along the Red Hill Valley Parkway approaching the King Street overpass was taken on June 16, 2019.

Once the June 16, 2019 data is properly complied and posted we will have more to say about it as well as its relationship to all the previously collected data.

Red Hill Valley Parkway – New Paving Receives Complaint

In a “Letter-to-the Editor” of the Hamilton Spectator Newspaper, a local reader complained about the roughness of the newly-paved, northbound lanes of the Red Hill Valley Parkway. The letter read as follows:

Newly-paved road a disaster

RE: Red Hill

I had the displeasure of using the newly-paved downbound portion of the Red Hill Expressway. It is a disaster.

In my normal day of work, I teach bus and truck driving for a large trucking company here in Hamilton. Today I transferred one bus to London and returned with another to Hamilton. The bus is a beautiful Thomas coach. I had no trouble driving and handling it from London via 401, then 403 to the Linc in Hamilton. But once getting onto the new pavement of the Red Hill downbound, it felt as if my tires were out of balance and the steering started to shimmy, plus the ride was a bit bouncy. My conclusion is that the paving was rushed and not tested at high-speed driving. This is why the pavement is uneven. I predict that there will be some anxious moments by drivers in the next few days.

To further exacerbate the Red Hill’s downbound problem, the road marking where the road comes up to Barton Street is incorrectly painted. This intersection since its inception has had three lanes, one left turning lane, middle lane turning both left or right, and the curb lane turning right. The pavement markings were correct prior to repaving. But now there are two left turning lanes and one right turning lane despite the signage on the post advising drivers otherwise. Tsk, tsk, tsk, rushing things causes a big mess that will have to be corrected later.

I suggest that the City of Hamilton should have some big vehicle go downhill, obeying the speed limit and see what is the experience.

Dez Miklós, Hamilton

Gorski Consulting completed testing of the surface of the Red Hill Valley Parkway on May 15, 2019, or just a few days before the re-paving was commenced.

View of northbound lanes of the Red Hill Valley Parkway taken on the day of testing by Gorski Consulting on May 15, 2019

Assembly of the video project is almost complete and the numerical analysis will begin within the next day or two. We should have some results shortly. We may also return to the re-paved surface and re-do the testing to see what difference there is in the readings. We expect to up-load all this information on this website shortly.

UPDATE: June 16, 2019; 2100 Hours

In light of the comments made by the above-noted complainant Gorski Consulting expedited our re-testing of the re-paved surface by attending the Lincoln Alexander and the Red Hill Valley Parkway (RHVP) this evening. Testing was conducted in the same manner as carried out on May 15, 2019 which was done before the re-paving occurred. These two testing dates will provide a good comparison of the surfaces of the two expressways before and after the RHVP re-paving. Our impression while driving over the re-paved RHVP surface was that it appeared to be smooth and not consistent with the observations of the complainant noted above. However that complainant was reportedly driving a bus and there could be a difference in experience compared to the Buick Allure passenger car that was used in our testing. Once we have analysed the data we will have more to say on this issue.

Highway 402 – Tables of Road Surface Condition Data Obtained From Testing on April 29, 2019

Tables showing the data obtained from specific locations along Highway 402 are provided here from testing conducted on April 29, 2019. As discussed in previous articles this data contains information about the disturbance in the test vehicle’s motion caused the surface conditions of the highway. The areas of greatest concern exist primarily in the westbound lanes of Highway 402.

The table below shows the data obtained while travellling eastbound commencing from Centre Road near Strathroy, Ontario to Miller Road approaching London, Ontario.

The table below shows the data obtained from travelling westbound on Highway 402 from Miller Road, west of London, Ontario, to Hickery Road, near Strathroy, Ontario.

As mentioned previously, there are a number of segments of Highway 402 that contain poor surface conditions. The photos below were taken in the westbound lanes of Highway 402 just west of Olde Drive on June 14, 2019. It can be noted that nothing has changed since similar photos were taken (and uploaded in previous articles) on May 21, 2019.

Condtion of Highway 402 westbound lanes just west of Olde Drive on June 14, 2019.

Condition of Highway 402 westbound lanes just west of Olde Drive on June 14, 2019.

Gorski Consulting is presently working on the compilation of the data obtained from the Red Hill Valley Parkway in Hamilton, Ontario. This data was obtained on May 15, 2019 or just a couple of days before the Parkway was re-surfaced. It will be of interest as there has been considerable controversy since a road surface testing report became lost showing poor surface conditions. The report was then found resulting in public outcry after suggestions that the surface conditions resulted in a number of collisions on the Parkway. The testing performed by Gorski Consulting examines different surface parameters than those in the lost report. This data will  be reported in an upcoming article.

Drivers Beware – Road Data Shows Important Differences in 400 Series Highways in Southwestern Ontario

Drivers in Ontario have an objective way of comparing the safety of road surfaces. In the most recent series of testing, Gorski Consulting has compared the surfaces of Highway 401 and 402 with interesting, and differing, results.

The testing involved driving a test vehicle along each highway and documenting the amount of disturbance of the vehicle motion. The “Lateral Rotation” or sideways motion, and “Longitudinal Rotation”, or forward/back motion were sensed. This data was collected at 30 second intervals or, at highway speed (110 km/h), for approximately 900-metre distances. The averages of these motions were obtained and these will be reported.

It had been previously noted that vehicle motions under 0.0200 radians per second indicate a good surface, values between 0.0200 and 0.0500 indicate varying degrees of danger that could be hiding a local safety problem, and values above 0.0500 indicate that major road surface problems likely exist throughout the tested road segment. However there are other, complicating factors. When road surfaces become slippery due to rain, snow or ice there are greater chances of causing loss-of-control because of the lower tire force. There are also issues of speed of a vehicle and the traffic volume. Thus motions caused to a vehicle travelling at high speed are of greater concern even though the distrubed motion is lower. Similarly roads that have high traffic volumes have a greater chance of causing loss-of-control incidents simply because there are more opportunities available. The results of pervious testing have been uploaded to the Road Data page of the Gorski Consulting website.

The results of the most recent testing on Highways 401 and 402 are summarized here in a set of three charts, shown below. The first chart shows the data travelling westbound on Highway 401 from London to Tilbury. The second chart shows the data travelling eastbound on Highway 402 from Strathroy to London. The third chart shows the data from travelling westbound from London to Strathroy. Discontinuities in the Highway 401 data are because not all the collected data was analysed because there was too much data and it would be too time-consuming to analyse it all; thus various areas of the highway are shown in the chart.

Even without discussing the details of the charts, a simple, visual, comparison of the magnitude of the peaks in the data should demonstrate the large differences in the road segments.

The differences can be noted in numeric form by summarizing the lateral and longitudinal data for all the road segments on each highway as shown below.

The data for westbound Highway 401 indicates a suface that is generally in good condition although we previously reported that local problems exist. In an earlier article we used the example of a large disturbance in motion that occurred near the Merllin Road overpass, west of Chatham, Ontario.

The data for eastbound Hwy 402 show elevated values of lateral rotation. In particular the segment between 1.425 and 2.342 kilometres east of the Scotchmere Drive overpass provided readings of: Lateral Rotation = 0.0239, Longitudinal Rotation = 0.0156. While these values may not be alarming for low-speed, low-volume roads, their existence on this high-speed expressway should necessitate explanations.

However the real problems become apparent when examining the data for westbound travel on Highway 402. In three of the road segments the lateral rotation rose above 0.0300. Specifically, at the road segment approaching the Olde Drive overpass and for approximately 674 metres west of that overpass, the average lateral rotation was 0.0446. Again, this is a value that should be of some concern because it was obtained on a high-speed expressway rather than just on a low-speed urban road.

The three figures below show the condition of the westbound lanes of if Highway 402 on approach to the Olde Drive overpass as well as justs past it. These photos were taken on May 21, 2019. Clearly the lanes are visibly in poor condition.

Westbound lanes of Highway 402 on approach to the Olde Drive overpass.

Westbound lanes of Highway 402 on approach to the Olde Driver overpass.

Westbound lanes of Highway 402 just past the Olde Drive overpass.

While some patching has been conducted there are dangerous areas of missing asphalt located along the lane-dividing line which would cause problems when drivers attempt to change lanes. The collected data does not demonstrate this danger because the test vehicle did not conduct lane changes at the time of the testing.

In comparison, the photo below shows an example of the type of surface that produced low levels of test-vehicle disturbance. This photo shows the eastbound lanes of Highway 402 just east of Centre Road where the surface has been freshly re-paved. This segment of highway produced the following data: Lateral Rotation = 0.0109, Longitudinal Rotation = 0067. This is not surprizing and it demonstrates the validity of the testing methods.

View of new asphalt on eastbound Highway 402 just east of Centre Road near Strathroy, Ontario.

The travelling public is kept unaware of these important differences in road surface conditons. When a vehicle loss-of-control occurs resulting in a collision there is no mention by police or the official news media about the conditions of the road surface and if it played a role in the incident. An important fact is the police are not experienced in recognizing dangerous road surfaces nor do they have any training or equipment to measure the extent of road surface problems. These facts result in the existence of dangerous conditions that are not recognized and continue to pose hidden safety problems to the travelling public.

Gorski & Shalaby Collaborate on Brief to Canadian Parliament’s Bus Passenger Safety Committee Meeting

It was a considerable honour to work with Professor Ahmed Shalaby, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Univ. of Manitoba, in preparing a co-authored brief that was presented to the House of Commons Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities on the issue of Bus Passenger Safety. Our report, dated May 16, 2016  was uploaded to the committee site at the following address:

This 2013 crash of a bus with a train outside Ottawa demonstrated the need for improvements in bus structure crashworthiness.

High-lights from the brief included a discussion of the incompatibility of full size buses with impacts to roadside structures that are primarily designed for impact by passenger cars and light trucks. Photos of some examplar collisions from other countries helped to illustrate that our roadsides and buses are fundamentally similar and instances of multiple fatalities can be used as warnings of potentially similar tragic consequences in Canada.

The view was expressed that, while seat-belts should be installed in inter-city coaches that travel at highway speeds, the scenario is not the same for school buses where there is a real danger of causing major injuries and deaths to children from usage of improper restraints as well of improper usage of proper restraints. It was emphasized that abdominal injury to children is a real danger when the lap portion of a seat-belt restraint is not properly positioned/adjusted and in some instances proper positioning/adjustment cannot occur due to the usage of restraints that are inappropriate for the size of the child.

A recommendation called for a federal agency such as the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) to become empowered to investigate motor vehicle collisions in a similar capacity to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Up to now the TSB is not mandated to examine motor vehicle collisions unless they involve an impact of a vehicle from another mode of transportation such as an airliner or railway train.

How many times has a school bus been struck by an airplane? Yet this is the kind of collision that the Canadian Transportation Safety Board is mandated to examine.

The problem was glaring in wake of the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Saskatchewan over a year ago. No independent safety agency was mandated to conduct that investigation causing the RCMP, who are paid by the Province of Saskatchewan, not to release their report of the incident. One of the major causes of the crash, the blockage of sight lines at the intersection, was never properly revealed to the general public. Additional details about further causes, and how the bus passengers sustained their injuries were also never revealed. Such basic inadequecies would be expected to be nullified if a purely independent agency such as the TSB was involved in the investigation.

Recent, multiple-fatality, collisions of buses in the Ottawa area involving a train and the impact of a double-decker with an overhanging structure at a bus station were also emphased for the inadequacy of crashworthiness of bus structures.

The need for more detailed, reliable and publicly available collision data was also recommended. The current National Collision Database organized by Transport Canada from Provincial crash data needs improvements and the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) was referenced as the type of system that may be appropriate.

In summary, while bus transportation of passengers remains safe, it only requires a single major incident to cause multiple fatalities. Continued threats such as incompatible roadside structures, poor crashworthiness, entrapment during incidents of fire and drowning, along with a lack in proper documentation of these incidents continue to await improvements and leadership from the Canadian federal government.

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