The City of St. John’s wants to make the twisted stretch at Rawlins Cross safer by removing the traffic lights.
The idea would see Rawlins Cross essentially transformed into a large roundabout. The section of Military Road between Monkstown Road and Rennie’s Mill Road would be closed to all traffic — except emergency vehicles.
Instead of turning left from King’s Road onto Military Road at the lights, drivers will now have to drive a little further and take a left onto Monkstown Road in order to continue westward on Military Road.
Drivers heading toward Bannerman on Military Road will have to take a mandatory right-hand turn onto King’s Road before taking another right to continue on Military Road.
A date has yet to be set for the beginning of the pilot project.
At Wednesday’s committee of the whole meeting, Mayor Danny Breen said the idea of the project scared him.
“Rawlins Cross is very complicated. It’s been there a long time,” said Breen.
“Sometimes, it is what it is. I think by changing it around to the extent by what’s being proposed in the pilot project is going to take a lot of getting used to. I don’t think it’s going to create anything greater than what’s there now.”
Breen and councilors Jamie Korab and Wally Collins opposed the project, with the other seven councilors present voting in favour. Coun. Dave Lane was absent.
Breen has asked to see accident statistics for the area to determine if there is indeed a heightened risk of collision in the notorious intersection.
Council transportation lead Debbie Hanlon says the changes are an effort to make the infamous intersection easier on everyone.
“Right now, there is confusion, especially from people out of town,” said Hanlon.
“This has probably been one of the highest number of complaint areas we’ve had. So, we’ve had traffic and engineering look at it. We’re hoping this will improve traffic flow in the area and reduce confusion, which causes accidents.”
Five other pilot projects were approved by council on Wednesday and will get the final stamp of approval at a future council meeting.
The Pennywell Road-Cookstown Road intersection will be turned into a roundabout. Staff says that change will help the flow of traffic and reduce driver confusion.
Three sidewalks will be extended slightly into the street along three crosswalks: one at Military Road across from Bannerman Park, another at Ladysmith Drive and Kiwanis Street, and another at Terra Nova Road and Wishingwell Road.
Another project will see a community neighborhood art project take place on Tree Top Drive in Southlands. In an effort to curb speeding, the city will accept art designs to be painted along the street. Art submissions will be reviewed by the city and must not contain any words or games, like hopscotch, that could encourage children into the street. Once designs are accepted, the city will lead a street-painting day for residents in the neighbourhood to paint the street.
Each project will be reviewed until the fall, when a report will be submitted to council to determine whether the changes will become permanent.