Nova Scotia

More ship traffic at Fairview Cove proposed to ease Cogswell Interchange congestion

A man who has been analyzing port traffic in Halifax for the past 50 years says the upcoming redevelopment of the Cogswell Interchange should force adjustments to activity at the area's marine terminals in order to lessen the impact of truck traffic in downtown Halifax.

Redirecting ship traffic from Halterm could ease truck traffic downtown during redevelopment

Retired architect Mac Mackay says most shipping lines should be re-routed from the Halterm container terminal on Marginal Road to the Fairview Cove container terminal at the entrance to the Bedford Basin. (CBC)

A man who has been analyzing port traffic in Halifax for the past 50 years says the upcoming redevelopment of the Cogswell Interchange should force adjustments to activity at the area's marine terminals in order to lessen the impact of truck traffic in downtown Halifax.

The Cogswell Interchange is a jumble of overpasses and underpasses at Cogswell Street, Barrington Street and Upper Water Street, built in the 1960s to accommodate a harbourside expressway that was never built. 

The city plans to redevelop the area by 2020, and re-route truck traffic through downtown Halifax during the construction phase.

Dangerously close

Retired architect Mac Mackay, who has been publishing a newsletter and blog about ships and shipping in Halifax Harbour since 1986 — and observing the industry since 1966 — said the city came dangerously close to crisis when it set out to build a freeway along the waterfront.

"The city would have turned out entirely different. Would we have had a tourist draw to the waterfront? Absolutely not," Mackay said in his role as harbour watcher on CBC's Information Morning.

Cancellation of the expressway project "changed the face of Halifax, quite literally," he said.

The Cogswell Interchange is all that remains of that project today, and only careful planning will ensure we don't push the city into crisis mode a second time during the redevelopment phase, Mackay said.

Possible solutions

"I have some solutions," he said. "They're not magic bullets, exactly. But they are things I think they could do."

Currently, the plan is to direct truck traffic from the waterfront along Morris Street to South Park Street, across Spring Garden onto Robie Street, and then off the peninsula. That would last four years.

Mackay said a better idea would be to cut down on the number of shipments arriving at the the Halterm container terminal on Marginal Road in the first place.

He said most shipping lines should be relocated to the Fairview Cove container terminal at the entrance to the Bedford Basin.

Halterm's role could change to serve ships which are too large to pass under the bridges, Mackay said.

This would require a new management arrangement between the two terminals which are currently in competition with one another, he said.

Also, Mackay said all road shuttles should be eliminated between Halterm and Fairview Cove terminals, and re-routed to underused CN rail sidings.

Calling for task force

The city and the port should establish a task force to begin working on these issues as soon as possible, he said.

Although he didn't call it a task force, city spokesman Brendan Elliott said city staff are planning to meet with port officials this week to begin the conversation about truck traffic in downtown Halifax.

Our Harbour Watcher Mac Mackay has been in the port city for five decades this month. He reflects on the changes he's seen, and how the port might be transformed in the years ahead. 9:03

With files from Information Morning