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Old Posted Mar 7, 2014, 11:33 AM
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Traffic Congestion and Lack of Parking in the Downtown of St. John's

Traffic congestion and a perceived lack of parking in the Downtown seems to be an issue that is forever coming up in regards to development in the area.

Happy City St. John's recently shared a summary of this study:

When Traffic Congestion Is Both a Great Thing and a Terrible Thing

Quote:
In sum, while regional congestion appears to be a drag, local congestion appears to function as an amenity — implying that there is truth in the competing notions among engineers and economists of congestion as a diseconomy and among urban designers of congestion as an amenity.
http://www.theatlanticcities.com/job...le-thing/8534/

And Copes shared this article as well:

America's Cities Are Still Too Afraid to Make Driving Unappealing

Quote:
"We're still not seeing any really significant mode shifts, despite decades of investment," he says, still talking about the cycling capitals of Portland and Boulder. "The crucial component that's missing is that we're not implementing any policies that disincentivize driving."
http://www.theatlanticcities.com/com...ppealing/8564/

Discussions on Happy City St. John's Facebook Page indicate - in my opinion, terrifyingly - that there are people in our fair city who would prefer our downtown more closely resembled that infamous picture of Houston. And, if not bad, at least comparable to most cities in Western Canada today with surface parking lots peppered throughout the Downtown.

One man even talked about how congestion is a problem because when he walks in the middle of Water Street and refuses, on purpose, to move over, cars line up behind him and are unable to get around him when traffic is coming in the other direction along our narrow main drag. Yes, someone seriously posted that.

So, what can we do? What's the solution?
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  #2  
Old Posted Mar 7, 2014, 11:46 AM
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I'm of the opinion that facilitating ease of travel by personal vehicle and providing parking for commuters from separate, suburban municipalities should be our last concern for the Downtown.

People will only choose public transit when it is the easiest option and I believe we should follow the lead of cities that have proven this is exceptionally effective as a component of urban planning, like Vancouver has done, and Calgary is starting to do.

My solution for the traffic congestion and parking problems in the Downtown is a combination of all sorts of ideas we've discussed here over the years.

I break them up into two categories, Must-Have Minimums and Nice-to-Have Add-ons.

Must-Have Minimums

Build a large new parking garage near the Downtown West End, preferably on currently industrial land associated with the Port along Water Street West.

Reintroduce the trams along their original route, which would connect this parking garage to the Downtown.

Make monthly parking passes at this parking garage more affordable than any other parking garage in the city.

Decree that having a parking pass from this parking garage enables the holder to use public transit (at least, the trams) for free.

This alone could work wonders... but we could do much more:

Nice-to-Have Add-ons

This new parking garage should be constructed to replace the Atlantic Place parking garage, which would be demolished and the site used for new commercial development.

Water and Duckworth streets should be turned into one-way streets.

Water Street, from Becks Cove to Ayre's Cove, should be pedestrian/tram-only as it was for a time in the 1960s:


The Telegram

The existing road network makes that a perfectly easy switch to do.

Pipe Dreams

And, if we could afford it and really wanted to plan ahead...

Instead of building that new parking garage in the Downtown West End, build it in Donovan's Industrial Park in Mount Pearl. Build a Light Rail Transit line from there along the old rail bed through the Waterford Valley to the Downtown West End, where a small station can link it to the trams.

This would not only make commuting less expensive than using a personal vehicle, it would also make it faster and more convenient.

And, really, our traffic congestion and parking problem downtown is primarily an issue with commuters from the southwest, from Mount Pearl, Paradise, Conception Bay South, etc. If we take care of that route, we fix the problem. There are far fewer commuters coming downtown from St. John's proper or suburbs to the northeast such as Torbay.
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Old Posted Mar 7, 2014, 1:38 PM
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Great ideas. I really like the idea of providing a parking area in the west end of Water Street, perhaps just down past the Railway Musuem, and having shuttles every 15 minutes to take you into the downtown.
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Old Posted Mar 7, 2014, 1:45 PM
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Yeah, that'd be great.

One thing I'm not sure about... I said I support it in my original post but now that I think about it, I'm not sure if it's effective.

Would making Water Street and Duckworth Street one-way streets make them feel more like highways, less pedestrian friendly, etc.? I fear it might. If so, I don't support it.
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Last edited by SignalHillHiker; Mar 7, 2014 at 1:56 PM.
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Old Posted Mar 7, 2014, 7:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SignalHillHiker View Post
One thing I'm not sure about... I said I support it in my original post but now that I think about it, I'm not sure if it's effective.

Would making Water Street and Duckworth Street one-way streets make them feel more like highways, less pedestrian friendly, etc.? I fear it might. If so, I don't support it.
You are probably right on that count. While it may be frustrating at times to be crawling along Water St. or Duckworth St. at 2km hour, there is probably a reason drivers do it, either to snag that prime parking spot or a little sightseeing. If you are really in a hurry to go East/West you will use Harbour Dr.

IF we had more parking downtown perhaps it would be a good idea to remove parking from one side of those streets to improve the flow a little and/or promote more sidewalk "cafe" or "leisure" space in the summer. Just some thoughts.
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Old Posted Mar 7, 2014, 7:51 PM
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Yeah, if we allowed diagonal parking and only on one side of Water/Duckworth, it would use a similar amount of road width but greatly increase the number of parking spaces available. And then we could really have the streets be one-lane, one-way with wide sidewalks, a green belt.

Combined with a pedestrian-only stretch from Ayre's to Becks, downtown would feel like a pedestrian mall and still be more functional for personal vehicles.

Something like this, where the brown is sidewalk, the green is grass/trees, the grey is asphalt, and the yellow lines are parking spaces, and the white line is either the divider on a two-lane street OR the tram line down a single-lane.

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Old Posted Mar 7, 2014, 7:57 PM
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Originally Posted by J_Murphy View Post
Great ideas. I really like the idea of providing a parking area in the west end of Water Street, perhaps just down past the Railway Musuem, and having shuttles every 15 minutes to take you into the downtown.
The area west of the Railway Museum and the "big blue box" would be perfect for a massive parking garage/bus terminal. Throw in a Tim Horton's and you have a commuter's dream.

Presently it is used mainly for new cars arriving for distribution to the dealers so it would be easy to accommodate that operation within a parking structure.

Your parking ticket gets you a free ride on the shuttle.

The only problem now is making a business case for it.
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Old Posted Mar 7, 2014, 8:16 PM
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This is a long overdue thread, thanks Signal.

While I’m not a huge fan of catering to cars I’m afraid that our fair little city hasn’t reached the critical mass yet to embrace the idea of many forms of rapid transit. Add to that the general feeling by most citizens that it is their God given right to always expect to park directly in front of the business they wish to frequent (witness the number of cars in the fire lane at any given supermarket) it isn’t likely that a cultural change can be affect in the near term.

So, what’s the solution? In the short term (next few years) I think we are just going to have to suck it up and accept that we need two or three more parking garages. (and maybe one less....AP) I say parking garages because I’m not a fan of having every new building downtown become offices propped up on top of a parking structure. If you can incorporate a parking component discretely, such as the new Fortis building, then that should be the goal. Any deficiencies in spaces should be taken care of by the fee payable to the city, as in the case of the Stantec / Technip extension, which can then be used for new garages.

The bigger problem is where to put said garages. I have a few locations in mind that I’ll share over time. A couple are “way out there” but with some co-operation between the city and property owners could be achieved.
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Old Posted Mar 7, 2014, 9:28 PM
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Oh, yes, I hate that podium style too. At least 351 has commercial at street level... but it does look like a parking garage.
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Old Posted Mar 8, 2014, 1:08 PM
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There are some great ideas here! I'd love to see parking moved outside the downtown, either just outside at a transit hub or pretty far outside in a park and ride scheme. Imagine if people could get out of their car and hop on a tram or grab a bike which they return on their way out. In the short term I think heavily limiting traffic on Water and Duckworth would be a good move. Your picture up there would open up tons of space for businesses to add deck space.

Here's a report put out in Halifax not too long ago about turning one of their downtown streets into a predominantly pedestrian corridor:
http://pdcentre.ca/wp-content/upload...20Sep20122.pdf
Tell me you can't see some of that in St. John's. I believe they're looking at trying this out pretty soon. New York already has!
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Old Posted Mar 8, 2014, 1:22 PM
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Halifax has the benefit of having multiple streets to redirect traffic unto, unlike St. John's. Taking away any part of Water or Duckworth St wouldn't be as easy.

Argyle St is very much like our George St. (only cleaner!), and it makes sense to try what they are proposing.

It would be nice of the City and the George St association could agree on how to improve George St instead of letting that study gather dust.
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Old Posted Mar 9, 2014, 4:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Horsell View Post
You are probably right on that count. While it may be frustrating at times to be crawling along Water St. or Duckworth St. at 2km hour, there is probably a reason drivers do it, either to snag that prime parking spot or a little sightseeing. If you are really in a hurry to go East/West you will use Harbour Dr.

IF we had more parking downtown perhaps it would be a good idea to remove parking from one side of those streets to improve the flow a little and/or promote more sidewalk "cafe" or "leisure" space in the summer. Just some thoughts.
Lessons from other cities have taught us that one-way streets are not effective for building safe streets for people. They speed up vehicle traffic (which is a bad thing on Water/Duckworth). This has been seen in Montreal, where many downtown streets are one-way (it was done for this purpose - to speed up travel by car).

I don't like catering to cars. Both diagonal parking and one-way streets will do just that. Believe it or not, making parking worse will actually work in favour of public transit.
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Old Posted Mar 9, 2014, 10:45 AM
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Oh, I believe it. Then we shouldn't do either of those things.
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Old Posted Mar 9, 2014, 5:59 PM
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I think both are appropriate in a given time and place. Diagonal parking would work well along more suburban main streets where vehicle traffic is undeniably a priority.

Montreal, however, is in the process of turning some of it's one-ways back to two way traffic, in an effort to slow down vehicle movement through high-pedestrian areas!

You need to cycle through all ideas to find the best one!
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Old Posted Mar 16, 2014, 11:08 PM
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What is the "infamous picture of Houston"? I'm surprised by that comment. As I currently live in the center of Houston, I can honestly say that parking garages don't particularly stand out to me anywhere here. Ironically, it would take me much longer to find parking in downtown St. John's than it would to park almost anywhere in Houston.

Houston's public transit is pretty terrible, but it's because everybody chooses to drive here. I don't even think it's possible to have a solid transit system in Houston, due to the sprawl in all directions. It wouldn't be as simple as having a single train system like Calgary.
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Old Posted Mar 17, 2014, 12:39 AM
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What is the "infamous picture of Houston"? . . .

This one:
http://i1117.photobucket.com/albums/...ng-houston.jpg
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Old Posted Mar 17, 2014, 7:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Architype View Post
Looks like a section of the "downtown" area: https://www.google.com/maps/@29.7519.../data=!3m1!1e3

There are obviously some issues with parking there, but it's definitely improving. I think one of the issues is that there doesn't seem to be a demand for parking to be concentrated to single lots. Houston is so spread out that it's incredibly easy to find weekday parking spots in those lots for a price lower than the St. John's meters downtown. As well, people typically don't walk around that area. So while it makes for a bad view, I can see why there is little motivation to concentrate parking there.

New businesses are building in other areas of Houston, because that area isn't really significant. In fact, most of the "energy corridor" itself is not located in that area (it's further up the i-10 freeway). At least this isn't the norm for most of Houston.
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Old Posted Mar 18, 2014, 12:38 AM
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Newfoundlanders really are everywhere.
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Old Posted Mar 20, 2014, 1:15 AM
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To fix the parking downtown the parkades should stay open 24 hours and not just cater to the businesses. Charge a day rate or something. I know that they are private but if something is not improved it will be awful. Having parking lots downtown is the biggest waste of space ever.
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Old Posted Mar 20, 2014, 10:46 AM
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Just going to throw this out there cause I recently talked to someone who didn't know this, but you can park for free in the parking area below the food court of A.P on weekends. I think it may only be during the day though...I don't usually drive down in the evenings.
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