Saint John pedway escalator fix could come next week

Saint John pedway escalator fix could come next week

Managers at Saint John City Hall are hoping a key set of escalators in the pedway system will be back in operation next week.

The heated indoor passageway rises from the waterfront at Market Square and runs uphill to the City Market on Charlotte Street.

It links several key public buildings.

The municipally owned escalators at Saint Patrick Street have been out of commission since Jan. 11, when inspectors determined they did not meet public safety code requirements.

There is no alternate staircase available during periods when work is underway on the device, pedestrians are forced to use a tiny elevator normally reserved for people who are disabled.

"By this Friday we'll have it installed completely and hopefully by Monday, Tuesday we'll meet the test," said Samir Yammine, the city's energy manager.

Yammine told councillors Monday, that while the escalator has been repaired twice since January, both repairs failed new tests required by provincial inspectors.

"This is an issue between our general contractor, which is Otis, and the provincial inspector," said Yammine. "Remember this testing has not been done before."

Yammine said the so–called "skirt index test" was added by the province after an accident in late July, on the escalator at Market Square. The accident involved a child who suffered an injury to his hand.

Pressure from the public

Public pressure has been mounting on councillors with the approach of the 2017 East Coast Music Awards, which Saint John is hosting in late April.

The event is expected to bring thousands of visitors to the uptown.

​Coun. Ray Strowbridge suggested provincial inspectors should get on side.

"We need to get in Fredericton and kick them down here. Hurry it up, boys because this is what we've got coming," said Strowbridge.

"I'll be more than happy to make a call to the local MLA or whoever I gotta call. But I think someone needs to say to the province, and that office of inspectors, 'We come first because of what's coming next month.'"

"Citizens loudly and clearly have been saying to us they're very frustrated," said Don Darling, mayor of Saint John. "We hear them, we apologize."

Yammine reminded councillors the city must come up with a long–term plan to deal with the Saint Patrick Pedway escalators, which are now more than 34–years–old.