'Sharing the pain': Truckers get to choose between 2 residential streets in Saint John

Saint John city councillors have agreed to steps that will take some transport truck traffic off one west side residential street and place it on another.

Ready Street and Harding Street West both set to be truck routes

Residents of Saint John's Harding Street West will likely see fewer trucks in the future. The city has now designated nearby Ready Street as another truck route. (CBC)

Saint John city councillors have agreed to steps that will take some transport truck traffic off one west side residential street and place it on another. 

Harding and Ready streets run parallel to each other — but for decades Harding has been a designated truck route for transport trucks serving industries such as Irving Paper and Moosehead Breweries.

Harding residents have long complained of shaking windows, noisy trucks and ear-piercing 'blats' from engine retarders, known as jake brakes. 

A survey in June 2015, found 267 trucks and buses used the short, one-way street over a 24-hour period.

Harding has 53 residential buildings, mostly apartment houses. 

Under what's described as a short-term plan, the city's traffic bylaw will be amended to give truckers the option to choose between either Harding or nearby Ready Street as they make their way to Highway 1. 

"Essentially, what it does is it shares some of the pain between the two streets," said Tim O'Reilly, the city's traffic engineer. 

Ready street has just 11 residential properties, a mix of apartment houses and single-family dwellings. 

Coun. Blake Armstrong believes most truck traffic will now shift from Harding Street to Ready Street. (CBC)

Its east end is directly opposite Moosehead Breweries, and it is expected that trucks servicing that company are most likely to use it.

"This is excellent," said Coun. Blake Armstrong.

"We now have two options. So the  truckers will decide which one they go to. And I'm telling you most of them will probably go to Ready Street from my experience because it's easier to go down."

O'Reilly told councillors the "sustainable" long-term solution to west side traffic concerts is a major reconstruction and realignment of Simms Corner, which would give truckers a straight route to the highway via Fairville Boulevard, a commercial street with no residential properties.

You'll never get this council to ever vote to spend money on Simms Corner.- Coun. Blake Armstrong

A 2007 estimate put the price tag for that project at $7.3 million, not including engineering, land acquisition, contingency or HST costs.

Armstrong said Simms Corner works just fine the way it is, and a reconfiguration is not necessary.

"Absolutely not. You'll never get this council to ever vote to spend money on Simms Corner."

Coun. Donna Reardon said city residents should not have to pay for changes at Simms Corner.

"I would like to see that picked up by the industry that's using it and by the industry that requires all the trucks."

Councillors were also shown options for short-term changes to other city trucking routes as part of a larger strategy dubbed "Move SJ." 

They include recommendations that truck route designations be removed from both Foster Thurston Drive and Churchill Boulevard, and that transport truck activity be limited to port activity in the south central peninsula.

There's also a recommendation to prohibit the use of engine retarder brakes except in emergency situations.