Torbay Road changes on tap despite Costco move

Plan sets out possible $10M in spending to address traffic on artery


Published on April 10, 2017

Coun. Sandy Hickman speaks to reporters at St. John’s City Hall after Monday’s council meeting.

©Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram

The “Torbay Road North Commercial Area Follow-up Transportation Impact Study” sets out a list of potential changes to ease traffic troubles in the east end of St. John’s — Costco or no Costco.

The plan is focused on the area around Stavanger Drive and Hebron Way. It prioritizes a series of possible projects, including altered turning lanes and a link-up of the new Hebron Way to Major’s Path.

The list was settled through public consultation, along with city staff and consultant efforts, noted Coun. Sandy Hickman, who presented the results to council Monday night.

The study was ultimately adopted by council.

“Some of those projects will probably be undertaken in 2017,” Hickman said of the included list. “They must now be approved for financing.”

City council can still decide not to proceed with items included. If the full slate is undertaken over the coming years, the total bill would — by a rough estimate included in the document — run about $10 million.

Any work in the coming months is expected to be on the smaller end of the scale.

“The early stages are small-scale right-turn lanes, etcetera, those kinds of smaller-scale things that will help. And if traffic doesn’t grow quickly, they may be maintained for a while,” Hickman said, telling reporters after the meeting the council elected this fall will have some decisions to make about the list of changes.

Before voting to adopt the study, council members made comments about what the planned move of popular retailer Costco to the west end might mean for all of the work completed to date.

Coun. Wally Collins said he wants more study on what the move of Costco might mean for the west end, including Waterford Bridge Road and Brookfield Road.

While the area immediately around Galway and the planned Glencrest Business Centre required review on the part of the developer, Collins said roads further afield could use more consideration.

Other councillors and the mayor suggested Costco was simply not the be-all, end-all.

“A lot of that traffic is coming up since the development of the Torbay Road Bypass,” said Coun. Danny Breen, highlighting commuters in and out of the city.

He mentioned traffic lineups to get onto the Outer Ring Road at Torbay Road as one concern.

“I don’t think anybody here is suggesting that we take the report and go out and do everything in the report right away, but there are some issues that need to be addressed immediately,” Breen said.

Coun. Tom Hann said the area right now is a mess. While some box stores might move with Costco, the commuter traffic cannot be ignored, he said.

At the same time, more study and planning will also have to be done around Galway’s traffic, Hann said.

“We do need a regional transportation system,” he said, adding St. John’s cannot address traffic in the west or east in isolation. Hann said he hopes the Northeast Avalon Regional Plan helps there.