It’s time the left hand knew what the right hand was doing. In fact, it’s long overdue that a whole bunch of hands got together to make some kind of order out of road construction on the Northeast Avalon.
Wednesday was back to school for many, with drivers getting a different kind of schooling.
Here’s a summary: there’s roadwork on Topsail Road, turning parts of that artery into a parking lot. Drivers were reporting delays of up to an hour while trying to make their way into the city.
Some decided to try an alternate route, perhaps not knowing of road delays on St. Thomas’ Line or the complete backup of Thorburn Road — miles of cars — thanks to construction in St. Philip’s.
The start of the week also brought bridge reconstruction on the Outer Ring Road, with two lanes condensing into one with predictable delays. There’s work being done in the Goulds.
One lane was closed on Kenmount Road on Tuesday, making a bottleneck even though crews weren’t working. Crews were putting down new asphalt and blocking an intersection on Columbus Drive at Capt. Whelan Drive on Tuesday as well, and the time they picked as the best for the work? Morning rush hour. This, after work paving the area between the bike path and the curb blocked a lane on the thoroughfare for a good piece of the summer, challenging drivers to that thing so many seem to fail at — merging safely.
Portugal Cove Road? Well, it’s been a water main construction project for three or four construction seasons.
Paradise? Let’s just say that, for drivers, it’s a misnomer. If you can find one happy driver in Paradise, you’re so lucky you should buy a lottery ticket.
There’s got to be a better way.
There are places where the work could be done at night: Kenmount Road, the Outer Ring Road and even the resurfacing on the parkway spring to mind. Cycling the work through nighttime hours (and dealing with diminished traffic) would be safer and easier for workers and drivers alike. Other cities do exactly that.
There are other places where the problem is not that there’s one piece of roadwork being done, but that there are several competing projects stacking up delays for drivers.
When every conceivable major route involves construction, there has to be a problem.
You can blame it on urban sprawl and the unwillingness of parts of the downtown to build vertically. You can blame it on our short construction season and on the sheer number of cars trying to make their way into St. John’s from surrounding towns. (That’s a number that is guaranteed to grow, given the projects now planned outside the city proper.)
But blame doesn’t fix anything.
Right now, the Northeast Avalon’s road construction and repair looks unplanned and unco-ordinated.
Contracts are awarded and the work is done based on schedules set by the construction companies — and, if you follow those schedules, they’re often not being met.
It’s a foreign word to many councils, but it’s time for something called “planning.”
Next year, why not pick up the phone?