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St. John's experimental roundabout a pain in the butt: resident

Great Eastern Avenue resident Mike Walbourne is not happy with the roundabout installed in front of his home as part of a traffic-calming pilot project by the City of St. John’s. Walbourne said the roundabout impedes access to his driveway.
Great Eastern Avenue resident Mike Walbourne is not happy with the roundabout installed in front of his home as part of a traffic-calming pilot project by the City of St. John’s. Walbourne said the roundabout impedes access to his driveway.

Every time Mike Walbourne wants to back his pickup into his driveway on Great Eastern Avenue in St. John’s these days, he has to run the front wheels up on the median placed on the street as part of a roundabout

It’s a tight turn for a Metrobus turning right from Petite Forte Drive onto Great Eastern Avenue in Kenmount Terrace in St. John’s Friday. There’s a roundabout installed at the three-way intersection as part of a traffic-calming pilot project. The Metrobus wheels had to go up on the street narrowing pad of the roundabout to make the turn.

If he had to back a camper trailer or moving truck in there, “good luck” he says.

And while he’s trying to maneouvre his truck around the roundabout and the additional road-narrowing pads while backing into his driveway, traffic gets backed up on the busy street.

“There are seven or eight two-apartment homes in the immediate area of this roundabout, and that doubles the number of people directly impacted,” Walbourne said. “The issue for me is that I cannot safely access my driveway without having to go into two areas of the roundabout with traffic backed up behind me.

“There’s not even enough room for the Metrobus to make the turn properly there.”

Walbourne said that when he’s heading west on Great Eastern Avenue, he can’t turn directly into his driveway but has to drive past his home and turn around further down the street.

Eli Walters, who lives next door to Walbourne, said he and his wife are expecting a baby and the roundabout not only causes traffic congestion in front of their home, but takes away on-street parking spots which are important for the visitors they are expecting once the baby arrives.

“We have to pull right out into the roundabout when we leave our driveway,” he said. “It’s not good.”

The roundabout on the single, three-way intersection on Great Eastern Avenue at Petite Forte Drive in Kenmount Terrace was installed this summer as part of a pilot project by the City of St. John’s.

Two other sites were identified at the same time — Veterans Square off Queen's Road and Plymouth Road next to the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland. All areas had residents calling for traffic calming measures. The pilot project — expected to last until winter — is an attempt by the city to improve safety for drivers and pedestrians in areas of concern.

O'Leary

Ward 4 Coun. Sheilagh O’Leary, whose ward includes Kenmount Terrace, said she has spent a lot of time dealing with complaints about traffic issues in Kenmount Terrace.

What residents have to remember, she said, is that at the end of the pilot project there will be a lot of opportunity for them to have their say on how the roundabout worked.

“There was a loud cry for traffic calming in that area so our traffic staff had been looking at that intensively for quite some time and put forward the recommendation to do a pilot project,” O’Leary said. “There will be ample opportunity for public feedback on it and input once it’s all done. And if it didn’t work, then fine, it will never see the light of day again. But if it did work then we will be able to do an assessment on that. Obviously, the public has every right to have their say on this issue.”

O’Leary said in any such project the transition for those located closest to it is difficult. She said she is available to anyone in the area who has concerns about the roundabout.

“It’s a pilot project and I’d certainly like to see it through so we could do a proper assessment about whether or not this type of traffic calming initiative can work,” she said. “There are, obviously, people opposed to it, and there are people who are very supportive of it. I’ll do my best to respond to concerns.”

Meanwhile, Walbourne said that despite the roundabout, he still witnesses drivers zipping through it without slowing.

And, he says, he’s concerned about the impact it will have on the value of his property.

“Can you imagine a furniture truck trying to back in here, or a moving truck?” he said, pointing to his driveway. “It’s impacting and impeding access to my property and this has to be reconfigured or rectified.

“This is not going to work.”

glen.whiffen@thetelegram.com

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