St. John's parkway roundabout stalled as council ponders necessity, high cost

The plan to add a roundabout to one of the busiest intersections in St. John's has been put on hold, as council decided not to reach out to the provincial government for cost-shared funding.

The roundabout was highlighted as priority in a 2014 Memorial University-area traffic study. However, council wasn't convinced that the roundabout, which would cost more than $2 million, is necessary. 

"I don't think it's needed now," Coun. Ian Froude said. "People can bear with the little bit of waiting now."

City staff was asked for costing and design at Allandale Road and the Prince Philip Drive for the roundabout. The recommendation was to send a letter, co-signed by Memorial University, to the Department of Transportation and Works asking for a 75-25 cost-share agreement. 

The study was launched in 2014 to examine traffic problems caused by the growing facilities at the university and at the Health Sciences Centre. 

Garrett Donaher, city manager of transportation engineering, presented an overview of the traffic priorities outlined in the MUN study to council at Wednesday's meeting of the committee of the whole.

City of St. John's

"Traffic grows about the same as population," Donaher said, adding they are anticipating a 0.08 per cent growth in population each year.

"Right now in the afternoon you can see cars lined up at that intersection quite a bit in both directions as they come out of their jobs in the afternoon."

While traffic congestion isn't bad now, Donaher said he expects it will get "more unbearable over time."

The city was planning three roundabouts for three major intersections on Prince Philip Drive: Allandale Road, Clinch Crescent, and Thorburn Road, where Prince Philip Drive becomes Columbus Drive.

Mayor Danny Breen questioned whether the city could put in one roundabout without the others.

"If you do this section, without doing the other ones, as you travel west along the parkway, the area between Westerland Road and Allandale Road is always blocked up, so you're going to get people through that intersection quicker but they're not going anywhere."

From Donaher's perspective, the plan gets ahead of any anticipated traffic issues, and said it is safer for drivers and pedestrians. 

Coun. Sandy Hickman was the only person to vote in favour of sending the letter to government asking for funding with the project.

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