St. John's report gives thumbs down to pedestrian tunnels under roundabout

St. John's report gives thumbs down to pedestrian tunnels under roundabout

St. John's city council is considering adding underground pedestrian tunnels to a planned roundabout for the intersection of Prince Philip Drive and Allandale Road, but a report by city staff suggests they might cost too much.

A report provided for Wednesday's committee-of-the-whole meeting pegs the cost at just over $2.8 million, but notes that doesn't include the cost of maintenance.

"In addition to significant cost implications, issues regarding constructability, grading, drainage, safety, and maintenance were also identified as significant challenges" to adding underground crossings, says the report prepared by city staff.

The report says safe alternatives for pedestrians and cyclists can be provided at street level.

Decision deferred

It also notes that funding for the roundabout has not yet been allocated.

The city asked Harbourside Transportation Consultants to evaluate the feasibility of providing underground paths.

The St. John's company's report that the layout could cause problems with storm drainage and snow accumulation, and if the crossings were blocked, pedestrians would have no other option but to cross at street level.

They are often underused and perceived as unsafe, particularly at night ... - Harbourside Transportation Consultants

Some pedestrians would also likely cross at street level anyway, according to Harbourside.

"They are often underused and perceived as unsafe, particularly at night, due to the fact that they can be dark and isolated from view," reads the report by Michael MacDonald, senior transportation engineer at Harbourside.

The estimated cost also doesn't include the possibility the city would likely have to buy more land. Its report notes that the size of the design would have to be much larger to accommodate underground crossings, and the city would need to get additional property in an area largely occupied by Memorial University, the Arts and Culture Centre, and the provincial government.

The report recommends proceeding with the design of the roundabout without the underground crossings, but the matter was deferred because Coun. Sandy Hickman, who has been the lead on the project, was not at Wednesday's meeting.

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