Clogged arteries

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Kenmount Road in St. John’s is something of a symptom right now — and if we don’t start working on a prescription, those symptoms are only going to get worse.

With traffic avoiding Paradise road work, Kenmount Road was close to being a parking lot Tuesday morning, stop-and-go, bumper-to-bumper traffic bringing tempers to a boil. It’s Kenmount Road today,  but it has been plenty of other places, too.

All summer, road work in and on the outskirts of St. John’s has shown something quite clearly: we’re not very far from a transportation tipping point.

Knots of construction work this year on any of the roads leading into the city — Thorburn Road, Portugal Cove Road, Torbay Road, Topsail Road and the Manuels Access Road — have shown that we’re essentially on the  edge of being able to manage traffic flows. As soon as one arterial narrows for work, it becomes clear that the others can’t carry the weight.

Traffic turning off the Outer Ring Road and onto Allandale Road can have backups on the off-ramp that are up to a kilometre long filling the shoulder. Drivers coming out of Paradise were treated to commutes that sounded more like escaping Toronto than driving into St. John’s. None of those arterials are showing any sign of being widened (except for the work on the Torbay bypass) and the communities that feed into St. John’s are doing nothing but growing.

Danny Williams’ Glencrest is planning more and more homes, developments in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s are stripping acres of trees for more subdivisions, Conception Bay South and Paradise seem to want to fill every square inch of ground with new homes, but at the same time, there doesn’t seem to be a co-ordinated effort to try and make a cohesive Northeast Avalon traffic plan for the future.

Heck, when the province funded the highway extension to run between the Goulds bypass and the Outer Ring Road, the cities of St. John’s and Mount Pearl couldn’t even come to an agreement on jointly paying for plowing the completed highway.

Certainly, the town council in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s is more concerned about its own tax base growing than it is about congestion on the roads leading into the St. John’s area. And that’s likely the case for many satellite communities.

But eventually, the gridlock will reach a point where the difficulties of commuting to work will start to affect the value of houses whose owners have to spend longer and longer periods of time on the road.

There’s plenty of traffic options, from computerized co-ordinated traffic light systems to roadway load-monitoring technology that could help ease the burden. After all, we’re not the first place to face traffic woes; others have found solutions that we could avail of.

We are new to it, though. As a Telegram editor pointed out yesterday, it wasn’t all that long ago that radio stations in the city didn’t have traffic reporters. Now, they do.

But in order to solve any of this, all of the communities on the Northeast Avalon have to start working cohesively to plan — and to pay for — the work that is going to have to be done.

Geographic location: Portugal Cove Road, Kenmount Road, Torbay Road Outer Ring Road Thorburn Road Topsail Road Manuels Access Road Northeast Avalon Allandale Road Toronto Goulds Mount Pearl

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Recent comments

  • barbara
    November 19, 2013 - 07:23

    Perhaps tbe time has come to start discussing ways to reduce traffic on the roads...I.e. park and ride at key entry and drop off points, car pool and public trabsportation lanes, improved public transportation etc. We drivers may have to change our behaviors to help solve this problem. Unfair to dump it all on various levels of government. There are no magic bullets.

  • jack
    November 13, 2013 - 15:04

    if the clowns at cbs council could attract a costco/goodlife/ walmart to the graveyard....err gateway development...boom!! half the traffic problem solved right there.

  • Dolf
    November 13, 2013 - 13:46

    I have to laugh at the reference to road reports. When one reporter says "traffic is slowing-up nicely" or "the ruts are filling up nicely" then you know such "reports" have become as ridiculous as the too-numerous weather reports.

  • Carter Lee
    November 13, 2013 - 13:35

    Your reference to the 'Manuels access road' needs to be clarified. To my knowledge there is no road on the Northeast Avalon by that name. The only one that could possibly be identified by that name is the road leading from the Conception Bay South Bypass road to to the Conception Bay highway at Manuels bridge. I suspect that the road you are referring to is the Conception Bay South Bypass road, a road which, while being built, was locally referred to as the Manuels access road because it ended in Manuels. That is no longer the case and I believe you need to update your references. Carter Lee Paradise

  • CheerBear
    November 13, 2013 - 11:30

    With the new Torbay bypass in place, it takes 15 minutes to get from Pouch Cove to Airport Road, the edge of St. John's. At Rush Hour in the morning, It takes 15 more minutes just to get from there to Major's Path. With the constant stream of traffic in both lanes, you can't even move from one lane to another because there is no room to do so. Everyone is up the behind of the car in front of them. Eventually they're going to have to put a third light there where they have the new Harvey's and other developments, I dread to think what's going to happen to the traffic then, if it's this bad now with only 2 lights. 3 - 4 lane traffic lights all within about 1/8 of a Km stretch of road. It's insane. And there's no other way to get into the city unless you want to go down around Logy Bay which will take you just as long anyway.

    • Sean
      November 13, 2013 - 12:23

      Cheerbear, housing affordability would have to be addressed along with these other issues. It's also about choices. That being said, there are suburban houses in the East End or Cowan Heights always on the market. Arguably you can get a new one for cheaper in CBS, but the point is that my tax dollars pay to build and maintain your expensive four lane road to get to your half acre lot. What you think is a cheaper house is actually being paid for, just not by you. If the full cost of building infrastructure such as roads, to your house was included in the price of your house, suddenly its no longer a bargain for you. Instead of a new house in CBS, you might be stuck with a 30 or 40 year old house in St. John's. People will simply have to make different choices. That's why I'm saying increase density. You might not get your half acre lot, or even your fully detached house. If density was increased, people might have to choose between a lengthy commute or a smaller house or lot. It's that simple, and we stop subsidizing suburban sprawl.

    • Dolf
      November 13, 2013 - 13:52

      Give it a drink Sean. Your logic(?) is as stale as last week's bread.

    • Sean
      November 13, 2013 - 14:47

      Dolf, please address the flaws you find in my logic. I'm interested in addressing any specific fault you have found. I won't be surprised if you don't like my conclusions, but that is different from finding logical fault with them. My point is simply this. Stop building and expanding bypass roads. It's crazy expensive and encourages people to live further and further away from jobs and services. Stop building more roads, and eventually traffic will reach a tipping point where people will have choices to make - live in more modest homes in or near St. John's and be close to where you need to travel, or live in a big new house in the distant burbs of CBS and be stuck in a car for long commutes.

    • Dolf
      November 13, 2013 - 18:02

      Would'nt St. John's look just ducky with a CN Tower type ediface on every street, and at least three on Elizabeth Avenue. Don't stray too far from your cage you could get homesick.

  • Cashin Delaney
    November 13, 2013 - 10:25

    Look at our traffic as a cultural appropriation. If we didn't have a bit, sure, we'd be nothing, nothing to talk about at work. The greatest tangible display of our prosperity is the scanty bit of rushhour bustle. If we had empty roads, the rotary club would hire cars to keep up appearances. Seriously though, it is cultural. Traffic reporters in St. John's bring us up to a cultural zenith that a population of 532,314 should never naturally reach. I don't think gridlock is going to be a decisive factor in the great real estate nosedive coming up, but it makes us sound like a big city to consider it. Look at the way our mining and fishing and oil is developed. Fair enough, not built for us, built for profit, laissez faire, ok, but when the housing business is done in the same way, it hits home, so to speak. How many people are now living in homes that were just whacked together for quick sale, some 2 story piece of shit, 2x3 and chipboard, tiny lot and yard full of blast rock under an inch of sod, no land, not even a windbreak of trees, unconsidered drainage. You probably remortgaged it already before the warranty is up. Occupied by social scientists, or some other economically-endangered people, soon to be raising children on minimum wage, and maximum mortgage, how many of these family traps will be boarded up by 2020? Truth is, traffic will ease up soon. General poverty will fix this before it gets too out of hand. Poverty may save Muskrat Falls yet. Wouldn't that be something?

  • W BAgg
    November 13, 2013 - 09:57

    Tghe city of St. John's solution to traffic congestion is more lights to allow left hand turns............the goal should be to kee traffic moving, Westerland road is a very good example, a road approx 500 meters long has 4 cross walks and 1 pedway, the crosswalks cause traffic to back up onto the parkway and Elizabeth Avenue. The entrance to the Education bldg should be barred, 2 crosswalks eliminated. An d people need to realize you may have to walk a little of your birds' path route to cross major roads at crosswalks

  • Sean
    November 13, 2013 - 08:20

    The answer is not to build more roads. When we build more roads, we simply spend public money to subsidize suburban sprawl. Policies to encourage increased residential density in the already developed areas of the NE Avalon must be put in place. When you combine office buildings and shops within residential neighbourhoods, you reduce the number of car trips needed. For those who still need to travel to and from work, regional park and ride options need to be developed. New lanes of roadway will encourage developers to build and people to buy homes further and further away from workplaces and other services. We need to stop doing that. It is time we became a city rather than a giant, sprawling town.

    • CheerBear
      November 13, 2013 - 11:38

      The reason why people are flocking to the suburbs is because no one can afford to live in St. John's any more. Homes are too expensive. People won't just up and move back to St. John's because you add a new bus route somewhere. Even close-by communities like Torbay the prices have gone through the roof where people can't afford to move there. Me, I would love to live in the city and close to everything, I think many people would. But unless prices come down a LOT to match the 'burbs, people simply can't afford to do that.

    • seanoairborne
      November 13, 2013 - 13:49

      It's past the time that St'John's started building up and not out!Now that most of the old screwballs on city counsel are gone ie,the Shannie Duffs and her ilk,maybe you can start building buildings in the DT area more then 8 stories in height?You get "urban sprawl"because of the phobia against height by a lot of antiquated old rhinos who don't want their view of the harbor obstructed to the detriment of the whole damn population.Everybody suffers for their ignorance!When are you folks going to wake up and sniff the coffee?When you build up that's less space you have to build out.period!

    • Dolf
      November 15, 2013 - 13:05

      sonoairborne. The "Overpass" was torn down last summer. On second thought I doubt you're aware of anything beyond Casey Street where you can get the face bet-offa-ya.

  • picky
    November 13, 2013 - 08:16

    Speaking of the Goulds bypass and the Outer Ring Road, there was nothing done on this road this year, did they run out of money ???

  • Derek
    November 13, 2013 - 07:57

    Planning authorities don't get it. Now they are installing speed bumps to "calm" design faults that saw residential streets become a major arterty leading to Stavenger Dr. Stavenger Dr. is gridlock, now and there is a fair number of developments yet to come on line on Torbay Rd. St. John's was always a day late and a dollar short when it came to innovation in infrastructure. Pack of idiots...