Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's city council hits pause on Kenmount Terrace roundabout

The data shows it's a good idea, but convincing the residents is no easy task, says St. John's city councillor Debbie Hanlon.

2 other traffic pilot projects approved, added to list for funding

The City of St. John's built the temporary mini-roundabout at the corner of Great Eastern Drive and Petite Forte Drive as an experimental traffic calming measure. (CBC)

Traffic studies show a roundabout in Kenmount Terrace is a good idea, but overwhelming public outrage shows the residents are not having it.

Debbie Hanlon, the St. John's city councillor tasked with heading traffic pilot projects, said she hopes to make one last sales pitch to the residents of the area before making a decision on whether or not it becomes permanent.

A temporary roundabout was installed last summer, which caused an 85 per cent reduction in speeding, but a sharp increase in complaints.

"We didn't get public favour," Hanlon said. "[But] I like to believe there is hope."

Councillor-at-large Debbie Hanlon announced an end to the city of St. John's winter parking ban on Monday at council. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

Council voted Monday to approve two other traffic pilots — one at the foot of Signal Hill and one at Veteran's Square in the downtown area.

But instead of voting to approve or reject the Great Eastern Avenue/Petite Fort Drive roundabout, council voted to defer the decision.

​Hanlon said she wants to get the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the city's traffic engineers in a room with residents to go over the results of their study and try to change their minds.

It's easy to not like something at first because people are resistant to change- Coun. Debbie Hanlon

Residents had complained the roundabout was too narrow and unnecessary. One man, who lives in front of the roundabout, complained it prevented him from backing into his driveway.

While she admits there were some issues with the temporary structure, Hanlon just wants the homeowners to look at their study and listen to facts.

"It's easy to not like something at first because people are resistant to change," Hanlon said.

The study also showed the cause for the complaints about speeding stems from the same people lodging the complaints.

"Even if the roundabout doesn't go there, the big thing I'd like for the neighbourhood to know is that most of the increased traffic speeding is coming from the neighbourhood itself," she said.

All the kerfuffle could have been avoided if people followed the posted speed limits, according to Hanlon.

"People need to slow down. We spend so much money on traffic calming, putting in different lights, education programs, redirecting traffic, realigning traffic. All that is because people speed."

Pilot projects can cause confusion, says mayor

After voting on all three plans came to a close, Mayor Danny Breen raised his concerns with the number of traffic projects council has undertaken and the impact it could have on the public.

When a pilot project comes to an end, the traffic design reverts back to the old format until council can vote on it. Once it is approved to become permanent, it goes on a capital works list and might not be constructed for several years.

Temporary traffic islands were installed at the corner of Duckworth Street and Plymouth Road last summer to help guide traffic through a one-way loop by Signal Hill Road. (City of St. John's)

"One of the things with traffic is certainty," he said.

"If you're doing a pilot project and you change the pattern and people get used to it, and then you take it away and then you are four or five years down the road before you get back with the capital work to get the work done."

On top of the three pilot projects dealt with on Monday, council is also expected to make a decision on traffic calming measures for Winter Avenue soon.

In the summer, traffic lights will be removed from Rawlins Cross and a traffic circle will be created as part of a new pilot project.