Nfld. & Labrador

Round and round: 3 roundabouts planned for Prince Philip Drive

The intersections at Allandale Road, Clinch Crescent and Thorburn Road and Columbus Drive could be changed to roundabouts.

City of St. John's planning for roundabouts at major Prince Philip Drive intersections

This is the roundabout planned for the intersection at Prince Philip Drive, Thorburn Road and Columbus Drive. (City of St. John's)

Traffic along Prince Philip Drive in John's is in for a major overhaul.

The city is planning three roundabouts for three major intersections on Prince Philip Drive: Allandale Road, Clinch Crescent, as well as at Columbus Drive and Thorburn Road.

"We're not used to roundabouts in the heart of the city," Coun. Sandy Hickman told CBC's On The Go. "But it's a worldwide technique that is used to control traffic speed and to cut down on collisions and to control the flow of traffic, and it's something probably [we] have been a bit behind in over the years."

The first roundabout to be built will be at Prince Philip Drive and Allandale Road. (City of St. John's)

The plans come as a result of a Memorial University-area traffic study, which was launched in 2014 to examine the traffic problems caused by the growing facilities at the university and at the Health Sciences Centre. The study was accepted with unanimous approval at the Aug. 7 city council meeting.

A roundabout will also be built at the intersection of Prince Philip Drive, Clinch Crescent and Westerland Road. (City of St. John's)

According to the study, those three intersections along Prince Philip Drive will be over capacity by 2025, and the problem can't be fixed with adjustments to the traffic signals or lights.

Hickman says the Allandale Road roundabout will be the first to go in, and that he hopes they'll start building next year.

Changes for Elizabeth Avenue

Elizabeth Avenue will also see some upgrades.

At the Allandale/Bonaventure intersection, there will be another through-lane added and the left-turn lane on Allandale Road will be extended.

Elizabeth Avenue will also see some changes. (City of St. John's)

There will also be a new westbound right-turn lane on Westerland Road.

Recommendations for upgrades to Elizabeth Avenue beyond 2025 also include a corridor of roundabouts.

"We would actually make it more of a boulevard and make it more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly," said Hickman. "We'd control the traffic speed by having one lane each way and have roundabouts along Elizabeth that would control the speed and traffic."

He says there is considerable underground work needed before they could start in on anything like that.

Cost sharing

The costs would be shared between the city and the province.

All told, the entire list of short-term and long-term projects in the study rings in at $22 million. But that's a lowball estimate, says Hickman. It doesn't account for things like land acquisition, repositioning power lines and poles, or the work required on the existing underground infrastructure.

"We know this can't take place immediately," he said. "And what we have now is a series of agreed-upon projects that basically form a plan going forward to address the traffic concerns."