Nfld. & Labrador

Proposed overhaul of Rawlins Cross area would see intersection turned into roundabout

The City of St. John's is moving ahead with plans to adjust traffic flow in some parts of town, and that could involve an overhaul of Rawlins Cross in the downtown area.

Plan would involve removing traffic lights, closing one section of Military Road to traffic

This diagram shows an early proposal for a new traffic configuration at Rawlins Cross in downtown St. John's. Several streets would be transformed into a sort of roundabout that turns counter-clockwise. (City of St. John's)

The City of St. John's is driving full speed ahead with plans to change how traffic flows around the city, and part of that plan could involve a major overhaul of Rawlins Cross in the downtown area.

Rawlins Cross, an intersection where Military Road, Prescott Street and Monkstown Road meet — is an area many consider to be one of the most confusing places to drive in Newfoundland and Labrador, if not Canada.

Now, the city is looking at a pilot project that would see all the traffic lights removed from Rawlins Cross and a new roundabout created at the complicated intersection.

Traffic engineers who designed an overhaul of the Rawlins Cross intersection believe that crashes like this one could be reduced. (Twitter/@AI_J_70)

"The design is intended to compel drivers to decrease their speeds when approaching within the intersection," said Coun. Debbie Hanlon, who is also head of the city's traffic committee.

It's so crazy that it's actually on a poster for the weirdest intersections in the world.- Debbie Hanlon

The proposed configuration would see vehicles traveling counter-clockwise around several buildings on Military Road that would serve as the island in the middle of the roundabout.

The section of Military Road between Prescott Street and Rennie's Mill Road would be closed entirely to traffic.

Traffic moving eastbound on Military Road would be required to turn right onto Prescott Street, then left onto Queens Road, and left again on Kings Road before going either right onto Military Road or straight on Rennie's Mill Road.

Debbie Hanlon is a city councillor and leads the city's traffic committee. (Paula Gale/CBC)

Hanlon said engineers who designed the plan did so to make the area easier to navigate and safer for drivers and pedestrians.

"The idea is to slow down traffic by guiding it into a flow rather than the way it is right now," she said.

"Of course some traffic is going to be diverted from elsewhere, but the idea was to have the traffic flow in a different pattern so that it is safer, especially for pedestrians walking there."

Old city, old roads

Hanlon said the new plan has only just been brought before council, and has to go through several approval processes before any work begins. She said all stakeholders, including Metrobus and the RNC, would also have to be consulted before moving forward.

She understands there are those who disagree with the changes, including Mayor Danny Breen, but her advice to the citizens of St. John's is to be prepared for quite a few projects which will change traffic in the city in the coming months and years.

"We're still struggling with the old city infrastructure to make it modern, so there are challenges," she said.

A section of Rawlins Cross in downtown St. John's, widely considered one of the most confusing areas to drive in the province. (Google Maps)

Hanlon said in the case of Rawlins Cross, she and other city staff believe something needs to be done to address what's considered a nightmare for both drivers who live here and those navigating the city as tourists.

"It's so crazy that it's actually on a poster for the weirdest intersections in the world," she said.

"If they're doing maps with this intersection as the weirdest in the world, I think it's time we looked at it."

With files from the St. John's Morning Show