Nfld. & Labrador

'Good compromise' reached on changes at Shea Heights intersection following outcry

"I think it's a lesson learned on both sides," says Jess Wilkins, chair of the road committee for Shea Heights.

'I think it's a lesson learned on both sides,' says Jess Wilkins, chair of the road committee

A large truck tries to navigate the construction area where traffic calming areas were being put in place in the Shea Heights neighbourhood of St. John's. (Submitted by Nikki Hanlon)

Residents of Shea Heights and St. John's city council have come up with a solution, after the community rallied against changes they didn't realize were coming to a busy intersection.

Nearly 900 Shea Heights residents signed a petition to undo traffic calming measures that narrowed Linegar Avenue — narrowing they said was too narrow for any larger vehicles to make a turn.

"As a matter of fact, the Liberal campaign bus had to make a 10-point turn in order to be successful in navigating the turn," says Jess Wilkins, chair of the road committee for Shea Heights.

Council announced at their Monday night meeting they would be changing the section of the road further, to open it up wider to traffic and hopefully address the concerns of residents, while allowing for sidewalks.

People in Shea Heights rallied to try to get the city to undo its traffic calming measures at a busy intersection. (Submitted by Nikki Hanlon)

"I think we have a good compromise," Wilkins told CBC's St. John's Morning Show on Tuesday.

"I think it's a lesson learned on both sides."

The new committee was formed after Wilkins said he and other community members got numerous calls from residents upset about the traffic calming measures put in place.

Lessons on both sides

Wilkins and the committee met with Coun. Sandy Collins and Mayor Danny Breen, as well as city engineers, to go over the problems residents were reporting, and the city explained why they made the changes.

"Because they were putting in curbs and sidewalks, they thought that it would be a great opportunity to use road narrowing, or traffic calming, in that area," Wilkins said.

But those changes weren't communicated to residents in a way that clearly explained all the the proposed changes, Wilkins said.

While narrower roads usually mean traffic is safer, because people slow down, it was nearly impossible for larger vehicles, like public buses, to navigate the intersection without multiple-point turns, says resident Jess Wilkins. (Submitted by Nikki Hanlon)

"I think the city actually had consultation, but I believe the majority of the community thought it was concerning the costs around the sidewalks that were being put in," he said.

"So I don't think there was enough preparation for the people to understand that they were actually changing the configuration of the road, and it wasn't until the actual curb went in that people realized how narrow the road was."

While Wilkins said his committee is happy, he agrees it's a situation that could have been avoided, as well as money saved.

It's a situation he hopes both the city and other residents will learn from.

"If the city ever approaches your community to say that they're going to be doing some changes, I would recommend everybody make sure they attend," he said.

"And in the same instance, I think the city needs to do more to make sure that the people are aware of what exactly the changes are going to be. Because it probably could have changed a lot of stress for the council and some cost obviously for the City of St. John's."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show


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