Nova Scotia

Prof says more roads, better transit needed in wake of storm that trapped motorists

After many motorists in the Halifax area spent hours stuck in gridlock on roads and highways during the first major snowfall of the year, a Dalhousie University professor says it's time to change how people get in and out of the municipality.

'A few incidents and a few problems on the road really can create a gridlocked network,' says Ahsan Habib

The poor weather was snarling traffic on Highway 111 in Dartmouth, N.S., by mid-afternoon on Thursday. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Long lines of cars crawling along the highways and side roads of the Halifax area on Thursday were more the result of poor transportation planning than snowy weather, says a Dalhousie University transportation professor.

Some people spent hours in their cars yesterday trying to get out of the city's downtown to the suburbs and parts beyond. The commutes of many motorists took hours.

"What we really learned from yesterday is a few incidents and a few problems on the road really can create a gridlocked network all over the city," said Ahsan Habib.

The professor said the bad weather and car crashes may have added to Thursday's traffic woes, but they weren't the root cause.

Traffic heading into Halifax on Highway 102 was inching along for hours Thursday evening. (Kayla Hounsell/CBC)

He said there simply aren't enough ways for people to leave peninsular Halifax. He said if there are a few car accidents due to snowy conditions or vehicle breakdowns that block roads, the peninsula's regular traffic has to find its way out through even fewer streets, and that slows everything down.

"We need to review our entire network to create more arterial roads, real arterial roads that flows traffic from the downtown core to the highways," said Habib.

"We need options to get people out, not just emergencies, but this kind of extreme time."

Ahsan Habib is a transportation professor at Dalhousie University. (CBC)

Those options could include more fast transit buses, a ferry that could take people to Bedford, a third bridge to Dartmouth and more bus lanes. The municipality has started work on some of those options, but Habib said more of them need to be acted upon.

Salt trucks were out on highways, according to the provincial Transportation Department, but there were complaints about a lack of plows on those roads.

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With files from Amy Smith

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