Let’s idle traffic changes
TALK ABOUT rearrang ing the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Downtown Halifax is in decline, yet city officials have decided now is the time to re shuffle traffic patterns by add ing six new one-way streets.
The city’s traffic department states that adding the one-way streets in the downtown core is one way to create more parking and “other business options," such as sidewalk cafes. It’s easy to ignore making change for the sake of change, but these alter ations could have serious impli cations.
City officials have confidently indicated the plan to change the downtown traffic pattern will be implemented by the fall, after public input.
But there are many reasons why people would oppose the creation of more one-way streets, one being that naviga tion in the downtown core, in a vehicle of any kind, is already confusing. And that is especially true for people unfamiliar with the provincial capital.
Lately there has been a glim mer of hope for the downtown.
Several major construction projects have been proposed, not the least being a new convention centre, hotel and office complex, which is at the heart of the re naissance.
It is more than likely those new developments will result in changes to the flow of traffic.
Rather than making the changes now, before any of the projects are off the ground, it would seem logical that waiting to see how the new construction will affect traffic would be a better approach.
Having a few more two-way streets in the downtown during construction may end up being a good idea.
In its report to regional council, the traffic department admits that some other cities have been converting their one-way streets to two-way to minimize extra travel distance and backtracking.
However, the Halifax traffic experts be lieve that adding more one-way streets to downtown Halifax is still the way to go.
“We believe that the closeness of our downtown streets means that extra travel on one-way streets will not be signif icant," the traffic department wrote in its information sheet, which may be found at www.halifax.ca/traffic
I’m not a big fan of some of the traffic department’s decisions. Anyone who has driven down Kempt Road onto the Bed ford Highway, only to have the lane they’ve been travelling in disappear without much warning, knows what I mean. It doesn’t make sense and it’s dangerous.
The traffic department was also be hind the controversial widening of Che bucto Road and concerns about plans to widen Bayers Road, which cause some people to question whether it is planning for the future or is stuck in the past.
I don’t have much faith the changes being proposed for the downtown will improve anything.
In the information sheet, the depart ment explained that it believes the exist ing pattern of street flow is inconsistent and patchwork. Seven streets switch from one-way to two-way and, in some cases, back again.
The proposed plan strives to achieve more consistency by establishing either one-way or two-way flow for the length of each street.
“The key to this plan is creating two major one-way ‘couplets’: Hollis/Lower Water streets and Prince/Sackville streets."
The plan would also create a bike lane going north-to-south on one-way Hollis Street and south-to-north on one-way Lower Water Street. According to the diagram included in the information sheet, there are no designated bike lanes going east-west in the downtown core.
Rather than leaving it up to the traffic department to find a solution for road congestion, the municipality needs to adopt a more holistic approach. For example, it should take into account how improvements to the transit system could help solve a need to widen roads and find parking spaces.
Can't say I agree with him on this one. I think it is a really good idea. It would make the downtown street pattern a bit more consistent. I also really like that diagram on the information sheet that compares the block sizes. It's good to show that sometimes, not only for traffic reasons, but to show that maybe we can't build the same way that other cities in Canada do.