Proposed Bayers Road widening sparks more heated debate
Proposal to widen busy Bayers Road to increase traffic flow divides rural, urban councillors
Plans to widen Bayers Road sparked another heated debate at Halifax City Hall Wednesday.
Plans to increase the number of road lanes is still on the books, but the bulk of the preliminary work has been postponed for three to four years.
'I don't want to give up my property because of somebody up in Enfield or Stewiacke or wherever, so they can get home 5 minutes early.'—Jim Strachan
Fourteen homes would be affected if the street is widened to five or six lanes between the CN rail overpass and Connaught Avenue.
Jim Strachan lives on Bayers Road and says the longer they put the project off the better.
"I don't want to have to give up my property because of somebody up in Enfield or Stewiacke or wherever, so they can get home five minutes early," says Strachan.
The heated discussion took place after details of a proposed 2014 Capital Budget of $165 million dollars was presented Wednesday at the audit and finance committee meeting.
The cost of the Bayers Road widening project is an estimated $21 million, but for now only $240,000 will be spent to study a bus-only corridor proposal along the road. The bulk of the design work, which makes up $3 million of the budget, has been put off for three to four years.
Widening proposal divides urban, rural councillors
Councillors opinions differed depending on the geographic location of their district. Urban councillors tended to argue against the project while rural and suburban councillors argued in favour of the project.
Peninsula West Coun. Linda Mosher says she wants the road widening project taken off the books altogether.
"I don't see how you can spend millions of dollars to widen a road and really ruin our communities to allow people living outside the core to get to work quicker. It really doesn't make sense. I think that we should afford those residents the opportunity to excellent public transportation," said Mosher.
Mosher says the city is not thinking big enough about public transportation and suggests ferries and commuter rail as possible options.
"We've got the rail bed, the Arm, the ocean (and) the Bedford Basin, so there are opportunities we should be researching," she said.
District 10 Coun. Russell Walker, disagreed with Mosher saying the project is necessary to alleviate congestion for cars and buses along Bayers Road, particularly between Connaught and the railway cut.
Walker says the Bayers Road project only needs to purchase two more houses before the expansion can proceed.
"We need to make it easier to get in and off the peninsula," he says.
City staff say if the two sites come up for sale before 2017, the money will be found in the budget to cover the costs.
They say they are not deferring the project and the postponement is more of a timing and scheduling issue.
Halifax traffic planners have said the congested road needs an extra lane within the next three years and needs to be expanded to a six lane expressway within 25 years.
With files from Pam Berman, Cyndi Fendley Sweeney