Nfld. & Labrador

Roundabout skepticism remains ahead of Corner Brook's first traffic circle

Corner Brook will have its first roundabout in June, but not everyone in the city is convinced it's needed.

'They are the best, safest, newest technology for traffic control,' says city's planning director

Darren Charters, Corner Brook's director of community, engineering, development and planning, says people generally come around once they see how safe roundabouts are. (Bernice Hiller/CBC)

The City of Corner Brook is not short on reasons why its first roundabout — currently under construction — will be a positive addition to its traffic infrastructure, but it still hasn't won over some residents.

Darren Charters, the city's director of community, engineering, development and planning, says he understands initial hesitancy to roundabouts.

"In most cases I've seen, once people see it installed they get why it's so safe, they see how efficient it is its very attractive and people tend to like them after the fact, but I really do the resistance at first," he said.

The roundabout will replace traffic lights at Confederation Drive and West Valley Road that are outdated and don't meet national safety standards, said Charters. 

"Roundabouts are extremely safe. That's the No. 1 thing about roundabouts. [The] No. 2 thing is they are very efficient . You don't have to wait for traffic lights to cycle through. When you get there and there is a gap in traffic you proceed through from a traffics operations perspective," he said. 

"They are the best, safest, newest technology for traffic control." 

In 2019, the cost of the project was pegged at about $785,000 with three levels of government splitting it evenly. However, the City of Corner Brook is responsible for any cost overruns. 

No need, waste of money and other criticism

During a public information session earlier this week, some residents asked questions about whether the roundabout was necessary. Others shared their opinions on social media.

This is a slide presented during a recent public meeting showing a rendering of the roundabout planned for Confederation Drive and West Valley Drive. (Harbourside Transportation Consultants)

A post on the City of Corner Brook's Facebook page promoting the public meeting about the roundabout drew 100 comments, many of them negative. 

"This is such an utter disgraceful waste of money. There is absolutely no need of a roundabout at that intersection," wrote Elaine Purchase Watton. 

"Complete waste of taxpayers money. Corner Brook does not need a roundabout," wrote Glynis Humber.

Many others said the money should be used to repair the existing roads and sidewalks in the city before new infrastructure is built. 

15 roundabouts and more on the way

Charters said roundabouts are becoming more common and are no longer only for big cities. He said there are 15 in the province now, including several in Galway and on Blackmarsh Road in St. John's, with more in the works for smaller towns.

There was a makeshift roundabout at Rawlins Cross in St. John's, which saw the average number of collisions per month drop by 53 per cent, but council voted to revert back to its previous form after some people said it was unsafe for pedestrians.  

There are several roundabouts in the St. John's area, including this one by St. John's International Airport. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Corner Brook's roundabout will have a single lane that can accommodate tractor trailers and camper vans. 

Construction should be completed by the end of June, and traffic will start flowing then. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Colleen Connors

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