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St. John's plans for roundabouts

One of three roundabouts the City of St. John’s council has accepted will be considered, over time, along Prince Philip Drive.
One of three roundabouts the City of St. John’s council has accepted will be considered, over time, along Prince Philip Drive.

St. John’s city council has adopted a new traffic plan, recommending a trio of roundabouts along Prince Philip Drive. And that’s just to start.

The Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) Traffic Area Study sets out a long project list meant to improve safety and the flow of traffic in the area around MUN’s main campus.

City council voted Monday to begin working the list into city construction plans and financial planning.

The projects are not guaranteed to happen. They will each have to be considered, moved through detailed engineering, funding arrangements and construction — assuming the plans are pursued. That said, funding for detailed design and costing of the first project has been approved.


First up: round and roundabout

The first recommended project is a roundabout at Allandale Road and Prince Philip Drive. It is one of the city’s busiest intersections and can see an estimated 18,000 to 20,000 vehicles move through it in a day.

Roundabouts are also recommended for the Prince Philip Drive intersections at Westerland Road, beside the CBC building, and Thorburn Road, beside the Avalon Mall. It is recommended the roundabout projects be completed by 2025 to accommodate projected growth in city traffic.

Progress is largely dependent on provincial and federal funding. And the first — again, if pursued — is realistically not expected to see a shovel in the ground for a couple of years yet.


Long-term plans

“There’ll be two or three councils involved in this,” said Coun. Sandy Hickman, who emphasized the roundabouts and other projects would be considered over an extended period of time, while the leadership at all levels of government, as well as at the university, would be changing. “But we must look at long-term needs in all aspects of planning and this has done that.”

There are recommendations for changes to turning lanes and lane reassignments along Elizabeth Avenue.

Down the line, there are calls for an overhaul of Elizabeth Avenue to create a boulevard-like feel (taking care of some storm sewer upgrades along the way), and closing Westerland Road entirely to through-traffic and adding a new road further west, along the edge of the Prince of Wales Collegiate field.

Other long-term possibilities on the list include new pedways and a pedestrian underpass on Prince Philip Drive.


Improved public transit?

Hickman said there is simultaneously the potential to reduce the number of vehicles on city streets. The plan includes a call for the city and MUN to create a new transit terminal in the area, add new parking policies to discourage individual car use and potentially add a U-Pass program. Students would all pay a required, set fee, allowing for upgrades to bus services, while receiving a special transit pass.

Hickman said the university is looking at the option, but there are no commitments at this point. Many items, like pedway projects, would not be able to proceed without MUN’s approval.  


What’s the bill?

Long-term, there is a suggestion a road might be run through Pippy Park land to the back of the Health Sciences Centre complex, but Hickman said it would be unlikely that project would move ahead.

The long list includes rough cost estimates, but those estimates do not cover any property acquisition, utility relocation or underground service work. They only cover surface improvements, including concrete and asphalt.

Detailed costing for each project will have to be determined as the city decides to move ahead, project by project. Accurate costing will require detailed engineering work not yet completed. The initial handful of projects recommended can be expected to run into the tens of millions of dollars.

The traffic study was undertaken by Harbourside Transportation Consultants, a sub-consultant to the former Hatch Mott MacDonald, and co-supported by the city, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Eastern Health the provincial government. The total cost for the study and subsequent recommendations was approximately $200,000.

Read the final report here:


This story has been edited to correct the study attribution.

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