New Brunswick

Saint John identifies key intersections as candidates for roundabouts

The City of Saint John has identified six busy intersections as candidates for roundabouts. 

Roundabout strategy to be part of 25 year transportation plan

A conceptual drawing of a roundabout at Simms Corner, in west Saint John. Traffic circles have been proposed for the intersection several times over the past 60 years. (City of Saint John)

The City of Saint John has identified six busy intersections as candidates for roundabouts. 

While the municipality currently has a couple of traffic calming circles in residential areas, a true roundabout at a high-traffic intersection would be entirely new for the city.

"We want to identify several locations, including focusing on one, maybe two simple roundabouts first," said traffic engineer Tim O'Reilly. "We want to give the opportunity for the community to use a simple, single-lane roundabout, get used to it as an educational tool before we jump into a few of the more complicated ones."

That strategy would effectively push back construction of the roundabout proposed for the sometimes terrifying Simms Corner intersection in west Saint John.

There, a heavy flow of truck traffic and a railway crossing are part of the mix, along with intersecting roads that do not connect at right angles.

City of Saint John traffic engineer Tim O'Reilly. Roundabouts reduce accidents and the severity of accidents. (City of Saint John)

O'Reilly told city councillors that the most recent estimate to build a Simms Corner roundabout came in at $8 million to $10 million.

Roundabout designs have been considered and rejected for the intersection several times going back to the 1950s or early 60s.

Other intersections under consideration are Ashburn Road at Rothesay Road, Woodward Avenue at Boars Head Road, Manawagonish Road at Gault Road, Sandy Point Road at Foster Thurston Road and Millidge Avenue at Somerset Street.

A roundabout strategy is part of a larger, 25-year transportation plan that is now in development. It includes such things as transit, trucking and bicycle routes. 

The intersection of Rothesay Road and Ashburn Road is another high-traffic intersection identified as a candidate for a roundabout. (City of Saint John.)

After wrestling at length with a financial crisis that followed several years of low assessment growth, city councillors were quick to point out there will be no money for intersection reconstruction, at least in the short term.

"The expectations have got to be managed because people are going to think that Saint John is moving toward these things tomorrow," said Coun. John MacKenzie. "They are a big ticket item and it's going to take a while."

In his presentation O'Reilly said the traffic circles drastically reduce the number and severity of accidents.

Saint John's roundabout discussion comes years after neighbours in Fredericton, Moncton and even Hampton installed roundabouts at key intersections to control traffic.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Connell Smith is a reporter with CBC in Saint John. He can be reached at 632-7726 Connell.smith@cbc.ca

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