Driven mad

The Telegram
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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?

Geographic location: Outer Ring Road, Kenmount Road, Topsail Road St. Thomas Thorburn Road Portugal Cove Road Paradise Northeast Avalon

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Recent comments

  • Craig
    September 04, 2014 - 15:15

    The construction process in St. John's is another reason why there are Newfie jokes. No where else in Canada would you see construction on a major highway during the daytime let alone during rush hour. And why not wait until MUN and CONA start the new school year before we reduce the Ring Road to one lane!!... It's laughable!... They give out tickets for beach-goers in Outer Cove for parking in a no parking zone, hardly affecting traffic, yet they allow Kenmount Road to be one lane for a month for sidewalk repairs! No coordination, as many comments have noted, and no basic common sense!.. It's such a pleasure to drive around Montreal or Toronto compared to St. John's.. Do the powers-that-be ever look at other cities to see how it's done? Have they ever considered how much their lack of knowlegde has hurt the business community?

  • Ann Legge
    September 04, 2014 - 12:52

    My favorite is when they resurface one week and then they dig up the same road the following week to do work on pipes. Or, they paint lines one week and then strip and resurface the same road the next week.

  • What A Mess
    September 04, 2014 - 12:07

    Hate to say it but, it's time government stepped in. I think the department of transportation should set up an office where municipalities have to submit their road and related construction proposals for the season, which will then be reviewed and coordinated for the season. Yes, it's more taxpayers money spent, but the problem is obviously the municipalities can't do it. It's not a matter of just road construction, it's a matter of every major thoroughfare being worked on at the same time, with no provisions for an alternate route. If the towns are not going to coordinate together, then it's time someone made the decisions for them.

  • Nichol
    September 04, 2014 - 09:41

    If there was ever a case for regional Government, this is it. Our civic leaders don't have the sense to realize that it is inevitable. What we have on the NE Avalon today is bad planning, and a lack of competence by Municipalities to mange contractors effectively, resulting in unnecessary chaos for all. Local politicians need to get it together!

  • Unhappy in Paradise
    September 04, 2014 - 06:30

    Well said! I've been in Paradise over four years now and it is getting worse. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to how they do things. I could go on all day but I'm already late!

    • Eli
      September 04, 2014 - 09:01

      Curse those asinine mayors and councilors of St. John's, Mount Pearl, Paradise, and CBS who all want to be the biggest, but hardly the brightest the way things are panning out.

  • Fred
    September 04, 2014 - 06:28

    I too have marveled at the apparent lack of planning that is nearly always on display by those who maintain the transportation system in St John's.....but add this: the off ramp for the CBS Bypass and the onramp for the TCH occupy the SAME SPACE! I repeat, an ON ramp and an OFF ramp in the same space! Talk about a recipe for disaster and talk about a lack of planning.