Unexpected traffic snarl prompts St. John's apology

The City of St. John's is apologizing for a massive traffic snarl caused on one of its busiest roads this week.
Drivers were irritated by long delays on Kenmount Road as construction crews started work on Monday without a public advisory. (CBC)

The City of St. John's is apologizing for a massive traffic snarl on one of its busiest roads this week, as unannounced roadwork caught thousands of drivers by surprise.

Scratch-and-patch repairs and paving on Kenmount Road brought traffic to a crawl on Monday morning during rush hour, sparking a fierce backlash through social media.

Communication problems ran into Tuesday, as well, with no notices posted on the city's website, and no information available on the city's 311 information phone line.

The city said there was no advance word on the job — one of the biggest paving projects on its summer schedule — because of poor communication with the contractor.

Driver Heather Legge said a city warning could have helped many, particularly because of how quickly information can spread over Twitter.

"There's such an active community out there, in this area, getting the information out. With one tweet that could have been all around the city in a matter of minutes," she said.

"There's lots of ways for people to get around the city, as long as they have some warning."

Coun. Wally Collins, who chairs the city's public works committee, said he was surprised to hear there was no information posted on the city's website, although he admitted he hardly uses it himself.

Collins told the St. John's Morning Show Tuesday that commuters should call 311 to get the most up-to-date information.

"They can give you an update," he said.

But when CBC News called the line on Tuesday, the operator said he had no information about work on Kenmount Road for the day.

The paving work is expected to continue there for the next two weeks.