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Galway developer says 'there's no need to panic'
Two days before Canada’s largest Costco wholesale outlet was to open in the Galway neighbourhood of St. John’s, there were already groans from people concerned about the potentially tricky traffic situation getting there.
“What a racket this is going to be getting in and out of this place,” one middle-age man could be heard saying to an attendant Tuesday afternoon while pumping gas at one of 24 Costco gas station pumps at the site, which opened last week.
When The Telegram approached him, he didn’t want to give his name, but said he lives in the west end of the city and is glad the store is moving from its Stavanger Drive location, closer to his home.
“But I tell you, you're going to get a good few coming in here who haven’t got a clue what they’re at causing problems for everyone,” he said. “You just watch.”
While traffic was light Tuesday and vehicles seemed to be moving with ease in the area, it will be bustling Thursday, when the 185,000-square-foot building at 75 Danny Dr. officially opens its doors at 8 a.m. and hundreds of vehicles make their way through Galway to fill the 1,000 parking spaces.
It’s the roundabouts that seem to have some people riled up.
To get to Costco, many people will have to pass through three of them — two at the top of Ruth Avenue in Mount Pearl on the overpass and the other just inside Galway.
Rose Clarke of Mount Pearl, also pumping gas Tuesday, said people are getting worked up over nothing.
“Listen, we live in Newfoundland, not Disneyland. So, big deal, putting up with a bit of traffic. People need to get over it. I’m not a bit concerned over this,” said Clarke, who is in her 60s and is thrilled to save with lower gas prices.
“And I love the roundabouts. When people learn how to drive them, they’ll never want to go through another traffic light again.”
Danny Williams, owner of DEWCorp, developer of Galway and a former Newfoundland and Labrador premier, said it is an exciting time for the neighbourhood.
“It’s a big milestone for us. … It’s a whole new facility… with much more capacity,” he said. “And they’re expecting to be really busy out there.”
He understands people may be a little confused with the routes getting in, but said they are becoming more familiar to residents.
“I think people are getting used to them,” said Williams, noting there are roundabouts in other parts of the metro area, including in Wedgewood Park, St. John’s International Airport, Holyrood and Paradise. “Roundabouts are the way of the future.
“Now, don’t get me wrong, for the first couple of days, it’s going to be just curiosity about Costco and people will be going in to see what it’s like. … But there’s no need to panic. We’re going to have a couple of days of congestion, but over time, people will just work out the routes.”
He said long-term plans are to make two additional routes for exit and entry into Galway.
Williams said Southlands Boulevard will eventually connect to Galway. He said the road had been complete for about 18 months, but the city needed to do some redesign in the Southlands area, delaying the connection. It’s expected to be completed this year, he said.
Right now you come out of the industrial park to get to the Trans-Canada Highway, and you turn right (east) to head back to St. John’s. But the road to the underpass is built, so eventually, an underpass under the highway will allow motorists to head west instead of just east.
Williams said the applications are before the federal and provincial governments.
“We have all our part done. We have our two ramps and we have built the road right to the side of the Trans-Canada,” he said. “What’s left to be done is to burrow under the highway, but that's not our property, so applications have been filed.”
Williams said they’re “due for approval,” meaning the project could be completed in about a year.
"...there’s no need to panic. We’re going to have a couple of days of congestion, but over time, people will just work out the routes.” — Danny Williams
He said the project would not only be for Galway, but would give a new east-west route – from Bay Bulls Road to the TCH.
There’s lots of activity in Galway, with Costco, residential development and 13 business outlets, such as PetSmart and Marshalls, under construction.
“(Costco) is going to bring the west end alive, so we’re quite pumped up,” said Williams, adding that it will benefit surrounding areas as well.
“Prosperity is a good thing. It’s a good indication of where things are going. People should embrace it because this is a good thing.”