Nova Scotia

Sawmill River daylighting project revived by possible Dartmouth intersection changes

Possible changes to a traffic-snarling intersection in downtown Dartmouth is reviving dreams of daylighting the underground Sawmill River, which connects Sullivan's Pond with the Halifax Harbour.

Proponents of the project call the city's idea to fix the confusing intersection 'fantastic news'

The Sawmill River now flows through an underground culvert. (Spacing Atlantic)

Possible changes to a traffic-snarling intersection in downtown Dartmouth is reviving dreams of daylighting the underground Sawmill River, which connects Sullivan's Pond with the Halifax Harbour.

Since the 1970s. the river has run through a storm sewer pipe belonging to Halifax Water. Now, the aging pipe needs to be replaced.

Jamie Hannam, the director of engineering with Halifax Water, said the utility might be able to double the amount of pipe it brings to the surface if the city goes ahead with possible changes to the intersection of Alderney Drive and Portland Street.

"That may change our design features and even allow more of our system to be open from the harbour up to the Alderney intersection area," said Hannam.

Intersection design causes congestion

City planners are looking at rerouting Alderney Drive away from Prince Albert Road through Mill Street in Dartmouth Cove.

The idea would free up land above the buried Sawmill River.

Jacob Ritchie, a city planner with the Halifax Regional Municipality, said the intersection often causes traffic congestion because of its odd design.

Options or opportunities

Ritchie helped present the idea to the public at a meeting Thursday night in Dartmouth.

"We're not in a position to say we definitely want to do that, but we wanted to be able to talk to the community tonight about what options or what opportunities might arise if we take that path," he said.

The meeting was hosted by the Ecology Action Centre, which has been a proponent of daylighting the river for years.

'Feels suddenly like this project is plausible'

"It's fantastic news for us," said Larissa Holman, the water coordinator for the centre.

"It feels suddenly like this project is plausible. And I'm not sure exactly what's changed, except for the fact that there might be new opportunities. Everyone, I think, is finally coming on side and saying 'these opportunities are exciting, they are beneficial to Dartmouth and they will add value to this community.'"

Hannam said the idea would allow the utility to leave up to 100 metres more of the 600-metre pipe open to the surface.

Final design years away

"We've created opportunities for the top of the pipe to be open so that there's a potential to integrate a view of the water with the adjacent park," said Hannam.

Hannam said the pipe replacement project is in the preliminary stages and would cost roughly $15 million, but the final design of the project could still be years away.

now