By Nick Holland
In a public information meeting on Thursday evening, The Halifax Regional Municipality revealed more details for the two proposed roundabouts on North Park Street.
The meeting, which had roughly 50 residents attend, showcased a redesign of the blueprints that were originally unveiled in February.
Tanya Davis, senior traffic operations engineer for the HRM, said there was a lot of feedback from different communities that impacted the redesign.
“We heard from the (active transportation) community to ensure the connections were all made and that they wanted bike lanes as well as (active transportation) trails and a bit more signage,” she said.
There were also concerns about the safety of the visually impaired community.
Davis said they’ve tried to address those concerns. “The crosswalks are set back, at a certain distance, so that we’re getting further away from the actual circle.”
The city will also add tactile walking surfaces so blind people can find the crosswalks.
The intersection that connects North Park, Cunard and Agricola Street and the intersection at Rainnie Drive, North Park and Cogswell Street have been deemed unsafe, as they don’t meet national transportation standards.
If anyone doesn’t want to cross the roundabouts, there will be alternate routes.
“The crosswalk at North Park and Cornwallis is being reduced from a five lane cross-section to a two lane,” said Davis.
The city will also be showcasing art. Davis said people requested more of it.
Some trees will also need to be taken down, but an artist will be hired to turn those trees into benches and other designs.
Coun. Jennifer Watts (Peninsula North) was cautious of the project at first because she wanted to know how it would affect the visually impaired.
She said, “I think, in balance, that the changes that will be made there will help with some improvements. There’s not going to be a total positive benefit for everyone.”
Better traffic movement
Coun. Waye Mason (Peninsula South-Downtown) also supports the roundabouts saying they’re energy efficient.
He said, “You don’t have cars stopping at night waiting for the light to turn green.
“When it’s busy, that means traffic continues to flow, you don’t have giant thousand-watt lights sitting there (and) flashing all night. Overall, once they’re built the incremental cost of maintaining a light and a signal is a lot higher than just having a circle.”
He, too, had concerns for the visually impaired. He said the current five and six street intersections are too dangerous.
If council approves the project then construction for the Cunard St. roundabout will begin this spring while production of the Cogswell St. roundabout will start in the spring of 2015.