To bump out or not to bump out

By Craig Westcott/August 19, 2022

The Provincial Government has officially signed off on Carbonear’s plans to conduct the phase II upgrading of Water Street.

The letter of approval from the Department of Transportation was presented at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Mayor Sam Slade asked staff if the Town is ready now to finally call tenders on the work.

Director of public works Ian Farrell said they are not there quite yet. They still have to determine some details from the engineers so that the trenching for underground wiring can be lined up ahead of the repaving of the street.

Chief administrative officer Cynthia Davis also noted the drawings for the upgrades have yet to be reviewed by the public works committee and council.

“The other thing that we committed to was that we would meet with the property owners in the project area so they could see the plans,” Davis noted.

That will allow them to have some input on parking and sidewalk changes before the work goes out to tender, she explained.

That sparked Deputy Mayor Sam Slade to remind council about concerns he has about some of the changes made to Water Street during phase I, things which he would like to see avoided this time.

“Mr. Mayor, I’d certainly like to have a look at it for the simple fact – and I’m not discrediting what was done down on Water Street, what’s done down there is done — but narrowing the road is a big concern for me,” said Slade. “Just passing along by the Stone Jug (restaurant) is pretty tight. Coming down O’Donovan’s Lane, if you were to come up that way, you can’t make the swing. If there are cars going down that way, you can’t actually come out and make that swing to come up this way. That’s a concern for me. And if you’re going to lose parking on Water Street, (in order) to be bumping out the sidewalk, that in itself could be an issue for the business owners down there.”

Davis said the plan is to continue phase II in the same style as phase I.

She added that choices will have to be made about where to place the bump outs – which are places where the sidewalk is widened into the road – because the addition of bump outs will cut down on the available parking in those areas. “Because obviously you can’t have both,” she said. “A lot of properties wouldn’t require it, but again it’s to consult with the properties down there so they can see what the intent was along the front of the property to see if we really needed to address anything before construction starts. That’s what was done in the first phase, and I must say it went relatively smoothly. Obviously, there is going to be some inconvenience, but at least everybody knew up front what to expect when it started and what it would look like at the end of the day… If there are particular areas in front of properties where there’s an option where there could be parking, if they come out like where the Stone Jug is where they have a seating area, obviously you can’t have both.”

Mayor Butt said the Town learned a good bit from phase I that it can apply during phase II.

Councillor Danielle Doyle said some of the features, including bump outs, were installed as traffic calming measures. “And unfortunately, we do have a fair number of traffic that’s still travelling through Water Street at a high rate of speed,” she said. “We’re trying to increase pedestrian usage on Water Street and have more stores and cafes and restaurants and all the rest of it, so in order to accommodate that, residents do need to slow down and be mindful of what they’re doing. Because I don’t see any difference in what we’ve done and what the City of St. John’s has done with their downtown St. John’s and their bump outs. I guess that because maybe they have more cars and more traffic, the traffic is slower. I’m cognizant of that every time I’m in St. John’s on Water Street that traffic is slower, whereas I often find our Water Street is a speedway between ATVs flying up and down and cars. It’s very concerning.”

Slade allowed speeding is always a concern.

“My concern is that you cannot come off O’Donovan’s Lane and make the complete turn,” he said. “If there’s traffic going down that way you’ve got to hang on there until they pass before you can make the turn. If not, you’re going to put your back wheel up onto the sidewalk in order to make the turn. So basically, what you’re doing is you’re driving on the sidewalk. So, it’s a concern, and it’s a legitimate concern and it’s one that I’m not looking forward to down the street. To me it as a mistake.”

Butt said the problem with that particular area is that O’Donovan’s Lane is so narrow. “There really isn’t any room to move out (into traffic from it). The only street in phase II (like it) would be PF Finn Street. That would probably give us some grief on that… But we will certainly look at it.”

Councillor Ray Noel asked council not to wait too long to conduct the consultations and get the work started.

“To add to what councillor Doyle talked about, in terms of the traffic calming, I think those bump outs slow people down and can be awkward in certain cases, but they do make it much more safer for pedestrians crossing the road,” said Noel.

He pointed out that some kind of bump out would be useful over by the TC Square where people are parking in the fire lanes and making it difficult for drivers to see small children who are crossing the parking lot. 

“I think they (bump outs) are certainly well worth the inconvenience that they cause,” Noel said.

Also speaking to Doyle’s point, CAO Davis said the intent of the revitalization plan for Water Street is to increase pedestrian activity and create more places where people can get together.

“And all the bump outs are at the intersection of roadways where you’re not allowed to park,” Butt added. “But we certainly will review all that and have further discussions.”

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