The Kenmount conundrum

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It was about 5 p.m. on Valentine's Day and we had just finished taping The Telegram panel for "Out of the Fog."

I was anxious to get home and celebrate V-Day with the family (not too mention enjoy Chinese food and chocolate).

But my rush was stalled by rush-hour traffic on Kenmount Road.

Holy trucks ... and cars and SUVs and cube vans.

The long line of vehicles was bumper to bumper, and moving slower than an anal bureaucrat.

It took me 12 minutes to get off the Woodgate Plaza parking lot, and I only got on Kenmount then because someone let me out. (Thank you buddy in reddish Subaru. I owe you big time.)

Once I was on the road a 20-minute drive home took six days.

OK, I'm exaggerating by five days and 23 hours, but it felt like that, and the point remains the same.

We have a congestion conundrum on Kenmount, and a large dollop of Vicks Vaporub isn't going to open the passages.

In fact, as subdivisions continue to sprout up in Paradise and C.B.S. like crocuses through the spring snow, the gridlock is only going to intensify.

Getting home to your family, loved ones, or pet will soon take a lot longer for anyone brave enough to travel Kenmount Slowed ... I mean Can't Mount Road ... oh, you know what I mean.

The solution: adding more lanes or twinning the road.

And I'm predicting the issue of who pays for the extra lanes will be tossed around like a hot spud over the next few years.

The City of St. John's will argue its neighbours should help pony-up because their residents — and more and more of them all the time — are responsible for a good chunk of the rush-hour traffic on Kenmount.

Mount Pearl, Paradise and Conception Bay South will counter the same point Mount Pearl has on the Team Gushue Highway extension — that it's a regional roadway and the province should foot the bill.

In November, while columnizing on this issue, colleague Ken Simmons suggested Mount Pearl's approach was right, that the regional road network has to be a provincial responsibility.

"Yes, the cities and towns involved will have to shoulder their share of the costs, but the province is the entity that needs to take control of this mess of a highway system, instead of dropping its responsibilities as it is working to do on the Conception Bay Highway," he wrote.

If that doesn't happen — and it likely won't any time soon — expect the standoff between St. John's and its neighbours to go on and on, like the line of vehicles heading up over Kenmount Hill at supper time.

Here's hoping I'm wrong, that the players don't get stuck in political traffic and instead work together to come up with a solution that corrects this snarl.

Because being stuck in rush-hour traffic for an hour is a painful waste of time, and nothing good can come of all those idling cars.

"It's not near as bad as Toronto," some might argue to dismiss the need to correct Kenmount.

To them, I say, "Let's always try to keep it that way."

Reach Steve Bartlett by email at sbartlett@thetelegram.com. Follow his tweets at @TelegramSteve.

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Recent comments

  • TBaird
    March 24, 2013 - 06:15

    I think road tolls at rush hour might help. It would help encourage car pooling and get some of those cars off the road. It would also encourage transit, if such a thing existed.

  • RGB
    March 08, 2013 - 11:00

    Having lived on Wyatt Blvd since '95, we've witnessed the drastic increase in traffic on Kenmount Road. Gone are the days when the first traffic light coming in from the TCH was @ Pippy/Kenmount! We've watched as businesses and housing have gone up along with traffic light after traffic light after traffic light. I haven't counted, but between the Avalon Mall & Wyatt Blvd, I'm estimating there are 6-7 lights along a roughly 5 km stretch. Seems a bit much, imo. I agree with Brian's comment re: buses. Having lived 12 years in Scarborough, ON, the TTC was AWESOME...there really was no need to have a vehicle. When I moved here and started using Metrobus, I thought it was crazy it took more than an hour and 2 buses to get from Blackmarsh Road to Avalon Mall. I could have walked faster, and in good weather, I did. And if you live further west than Mount Pearl, there is no public transit? (Not sure if that's still the case) Wow. Car dealerships must be cleaning up here in St. John's.

  • W McLean
    March 04, 2013 - 16:20

    The solution: adding more lanes or twinning the road. Or stop building so much low-density single-use sprawl, and allow existing single-use sprawl areas to become denser and more diverse. You cannot road-build your way out of traffic.

  • Brian Kidney
    February 27, 2013 - 09:44

    I find it unfortunate that every time there is a traffic problem in this city (or region) we look to more roads as the solution. In some of the most congested parts of the city, MUN, Downtown, and Kenmount Road there is little room to add more pavement. Where for instance would you put more lanes on Kenmount Road? The easiest solution I see is to shorten parking lots or removing side walks, in effect creating a parking problem for businesses or compromising safety. Twinning the road may be an option, but is it the best use of our money? We Newfoundlanders have too much of a attachment to our cars. This is probably a direct result of urban sprawl and a horrible public transit system. Since there is no going back to solve destiny issues we have created, I think we need to start looking more to the transportation situation. In many other centres you will find park and ride systems, express routes and just plain better scheduling from the bus service. If these services were implemented at a REGIONAL level we could reduce the amount of traffic on our main roads. Not only could this solve the congestion issue, but it would have a positive impact on parking and the environment. Of course this would not be a quick fix, it will take time to implement changes to Metrobus and incorporate new municipalities. I would require government money and leadership that will most likely be questioned in the early years of implementation. But in the end you get a solution to the problem that is scalable. Remember, there are only so many new roads we can build.