Relax — it’s only money. Monday, St. John’s city council put the time machine in reverse and began looking at undoing work it launched only recently.
On Old Topsail Road, the city’s now planning to spend $10,000 to rip out the $45,000 traffic-calming roundabout it just finished installing — a roundabout that was part of summer-long street renovations that came close to driving the street’s residents roundabout right out of their minds. Instead, the city’s considering three-way stop signs — old-school, but effective.
On the same night, council started the process to review its bike lanes, suggesting that parking is more of a concern than the lanes. Work on the lanes was started in 2011, when the first tender — for signs and pavement marking — was awarded for 32 kilometres of streets, a tender worth $458,000. Bike St. John’s was a $3-million project that took five years to bring to fruition — but on Monday, the argument was that the bike lanes are taking up parking spaces, so that residents of areas like Frecker Drive and Canada Drive can’t park in front of their homes. Many of those homes have driveways, but let’s not let that get in the way of easy on-street parking.
“When you measure the complaints and the disruption to people’s lives versus how many people are actually using these bicycle lanes, council has decided to review and revisit,” Coun. Art Puddister said after the meeting.
“I think this cycling plan is more a situation of an incompleted implementation,” Coun. Dave Lane said, adding that the plan isn’t to get rid of the whole bike network. “We’re experimenting with new ideas.”
Observers can be forgiven for thinking it’s one step forward, two steps back. The irony is that all of the steps — in both directions — end up costing taxpayers money.
Meanwhile, the city’s line-painting crews are out on the roads starting from scratch, using white spray paint to re-measure and re-layout the lines, crosswalks and turning arrows that completely vanished over the winter, leaving not even the slightest ghost of their passing. To be absolutely clear here — city staff actually have to go out with measuring tapes and relocate lines from the ground up.
Does this happen in all cities? Does winter’s magic eraser leave every metropolis in the land with no trace of last year’s work?
There have been painted lines on streets for generations — is there really no paint product that actually lasts through a St. John’s winter? Just imagine how much safer March, April and May would be for the driving public if turning lanes actually had arrows on them, and if crosswalks were visible.
Instead, though, it’s council as usual, lurching from pillar to post to answer the latest complaint about this street and that bike lane, while effectively turning a blind eye to major developments that stand to change quality of life for larger numbers of city residents.
Can’t park? We’ll deal with that. Want to build a monster building? Just plunk down the permit fees and we’ll drool over the prospective taxes.
Round and round the roundabout, fiddling while Rome burns.