HRM officials who tried to plead the case for a proposed roundabout in the north end received a collective red light from area residents.
About 250 north enders came to a public meeting Wednesday night to say they’re not happy with the plan to transform the intersection of Duffus, Novalea and Devonshire to a traffic circle.
HRM’s supervisor of traffic services Tanya Davis told the crowd the roundabout would improve traffic flow for drivers and reduce wait times for pedestrians because there are no signalized intersections – only crosswalks.
“If you’re wanting to cross the intersection of Duffus and Novalea, if you arrive just as the light has changed, you have to wait 47 seconds for the cycle to go through,” she said, as the crowd jeered derisively. “With a roundabout, especially with the low volumes at this intersection, the same movement would yield little or no delay.”
Following Davis’ presentation, resident after resident, stood to voice their anger, concern and frustration with the city.
Barbara Legay says for her and other visually impaired residents, losing the traffic lights means losing the audible pedestrian crossing:
“For us, the idea that that pedestrian signal is going to be taken away is a step backward and a kick in the the teeth to the efforts that we’ve made all of these years,” she said as the crowd applauded.
Janet Brush, who lives near the Willow Tree – another intersection up for replacement with a roundabout – asked Davis how often she walks around the city.
“You keep talking about how much safer it’s going to be for pedestrians, and that’s a crock,” she said. “At intersections where there are no street lights, you stand there and count how many cars whiz by you and won’t even slow down to let you cross.”
Davis and acting director of transportation Ken Reashor told the residents there are also environmental benefits to roundabouts because cars don’t sit idling waiting for lights to change.
But one man accused the city of “green-washing.”
“Anybody who’s studied the issue will quickly tell you that any gain will be totally negated by the extra cars,” he said. “If you as a city are concerned about environmental benefits, which I highly doubt, you do not smooth the traffic flow out, you restrict it and reduce the flow.”
The final decision on converting the intersection to a roundabout will be up to the elected members of regional council.