A different way around the Signal Hill noise problem: new road by the Miller Centre?

Councillor at large Sandy Hickman is wondering if a new main road up Signal Hill passing by the Miller Centre might be the best way to solve traffic and noise problems on Signal Hill Road.

Sandy Hickman thinks a new road up the hill by the Miller Centre might solve some traffic problems

Sandy Hickman is wondering whether a new main route up Signal Hill, built by extending the road to the Miller Centre, might solve a lot of the traffic and noise problems on Signal Hill Road. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

St. John's councillor Sandy Hickman is looking at a different route around the Signal Hill noise and traffic problem.

"Looking at the concerns of the residents of Signal Hill Road and the fact that this is the major and only access to a very busy national park and soon to be busier battery facility for the university as well as the GEO Centre, I feel we need an alternate route, if possible," he said.

He thinks a road up Signal Hill, by the Miller Centre, might be the ticket.

The old Battery Hotel building on Signal Hill Road is being turned into a suite of residences and offices for Memorial University. (CBC)

Hickman wants the city, the province and the federal government to partner up and pitch in for a feasibility of a road using the existing road to the Miller Centre.

More acceleration, more noise

As it is right now, the road up Signal Hill is narrow and the houses on either side are close to the road and close to the traffic noise. And that traffic noise is loud, said Hickman, because cars are accelerating to get up the steep gradient.

"You can't take away from the need for acceleration, you must accelerate up that road," he said. "Whether it's a rickety old bus, or a motorcycle or a car, they're all going ot make a certain amount of noise."

Signal Hill Road is narrow and steep. "The houses are actually on the sidewalks," says councillor Sandy Hickman. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

He said that noise will only get worse with more cars heading up the hill when the new Memorial University residence is completed in the old Battery Hotel location.

On the flipside, a route up the other side of the hill, running past the Miller Centre, has a lower gradient. Hickman says that with the existing road to the Miller Centre, a new road would only have to be built through 150 meters or so of grassland to connect with Signal Hill Road.

And it wouldn't pass by any houses.

A difference kind of residence

He acknowledges that instead, it would pass by a health care facility with a palliative care unit and a rehabilitation centre.

"I'm sure Eastern Health are going to have their reservations," he said.

St. John's city councillor Sandy Hickman says a road extending past the Miller Centre parking lot would only have to go through a few hundred meters of grassland before it met up with Signal Hill Road. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

But he thinks that with the right plan – a few roundabouts to lead people calmly into the parking lot or take them up to Signal Hill Road – it might be something Eastern Health would support.

Spurred by clashes with motorcyclists

He says he's been thinking about this for a few months, and that the recent problems with excessive motorcycle noise on Signal Hill made him to take the idea more seriously.

Hickman let council know at its Aug. 21 meeting that he's tabling a motion to further explore the idea at the next meeting.

"I'm not going to die on this sword," he said.

"If other people wiser than me about traffic concerns have better solutions and cheaper solutions then, sure, that would be something that I would certainly follow. But I would like this considered and I would like a traffic engineer to have a look at it and just see if there is any potential for this idea."

With files from Ryan Cooke