A Charlottetown councillor’s efforts to have an underground pedway dug under University Avenue have received support from a provincial minister.
Transportation Minister Steven Myers reached out to Coun. Mitchell Tweel recently to back the idea.
“Minister Myers has spoken with Councillor Mitchell Tweel about his idea for an underground pedway connecting Enman Crescent to the UPEI alumni office,’’ said a statement emailed to The Guardian by the minister’s office.
“The minister expressed that it was a good idea and that he would be open to further conversations about the project, as both increasing active transportation and making our Island roads safer are important departmental priorities.’’
Tweel first raised the issue at a meeting between the city’s planning committee and the university where the nine-storey student residence was being discussed. That project is now underway.
The councillor again raised the issue at a recent meeting of the public works committee.
Tweel said Myers’ phone call lends extra credibility to the issue.
“We have the opportunity now for the province, the city and the university to come together and collaborate and improve the safety at the intersection for not only vehicular traffic but also pedestrians and cyclists,’’ Tweel said.
The university is in the process of constructing an access road that begins on the campus road, circles around the sports fields and will connect with University Avenue at Enman Crescent. It will also create a direct path from the alumni office on University Avenue to the campus.
However, Tweel said it will also create a new intersection on University Avenue, making it even more dangerous for pedestrians to cross four lanes of traffic.
The idea is only at the discussion stage and no cost estimates have been done. However, to put things in some perspective, almost 10 years ago it cost about $1.5 million to develop the underground pedway between Confederation Centre of the Arts and the Holman Grand Hotel under Grafton Street.
Tweel dismissed any concern about the price tag, explaining that UPEI is expanding and pedestrian safety on University Avenue is growing more perilous.
Myers did say that his department, through the federal government’s gas tax fund, works with municipalities in an ongoing way to support their infrastructure priorities.
Tweel said the consensus at the public works meeting was to explore the idea.
Coun. Mike Duffy, chairman of the public works committee, said no one from the province has reached out to the city about a pedway project.
“It hasn’t come to the City of Charlottetown,’’ Duffy said. “The decisions are made at city council, not with the mayor or members of council. We have committees that do the work and bring (issues) to council for consideration.’’
Duffy added that if Myers is interested in advancing the idea, he should be reaching out to Coun. Alanna Jankov, whose intergovernmental affairs committee deals directly with the provincial government.