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COMMUNIQUE - February 27, 2009
Spring Garden Road Streetscaping Project
At the February 24, 2009, Regional Council meeting, a decision was made to postpone the Spring Garden Road Streetscaping project.The following is a communique to provide clarification as to what was recommended for Spring Garden Road, the public consultation that has taken place and the decision of Council.
Spring Garden Road, between Queen Street and South Park Street, is a prime commercial street in HRM. It is a narrow but heavily-used pedestrian route (30,000 persons per day in 2004), transit route (30,000 riders per day) and vehicular route (14,500 vehicles per day). As there are only three metered parking spots on the street, most parking occurs on neighbouring streets, on surface lots or in parkades. Whereas, pedestrian and transit usage is on the rise, vehicular use has declined by 1500 vehicles per day over the past eight years.
The existing 18m (60') cross-section of the street is comprised of a 3m (10') wide sidewalk flanked by a 2m (7') wide loading lane and a 4m (13') wide through traffic lane, which then repeats this pattern across the opposite side of the street. Based on 2004 pedestrian counts, it has been calculated that the existing sidewalks are over 2m (7') too narrow to handle the volume of people walking along Spring Garden Road.
As party of the study, Preferred Design Option #2, which was recommended by HRM staff, proposed the following adjustments to the current cross-section of the street:
• sidewalks are widened / bulbed by 2m at intersections - in areas where parking and loading are currently prohibited - to reduce the pedestrian crossing distance and make crossing safer;
• crosswalks are made flush with the sidewalks and defined by bollards rather than curbs to overcome the steep cross-slopes currently encountered when traversing the street in a north - south direction;
• sidewalks are widened by 2m along store frontages where loading for those business establishments is provided from the rear of the building;
• on-street loading zones are defined in bays edged by granite curbs and inset between sidewalk bulbs, creating a safer pedestrian environment;
• amenities such as benches, trees, bike racks, transit shelters, and public art are provided in the widened sidewalk areas to increase interest and comfort; and
• the two existing 4m wide lanes of through traffic are maintained and, to ensure smooth traffic flow, left turns will be prohibited at Dresden Row.
The preferred design option is the result of the analysis of considerable public and stakeholder consultation, including one-on-one interviews with business and property owners fronting on the street and four public open houses held from September to December, 2008. By the end of December, five design options had been evaluated. None of the options involved closing the street to through traffic and all options place overhead wiring underground and incorporate decorative LED street lighting.
The Spring Garden Area Business Association proposal to widen the sidewalks on both sides of the street by only 18" to 24" (1.0-1.2m in total) was evaluated early on in the process and HRM determined that it could not be pursued for the following reasons:
• it requires the removal of parking and loading along one entire side of the street, whereas, the majority of businesses along both sides of the street require front loading;
• the sidewalk widening proposed is 1.5m (5') deficient in width to accommodate 2004 pedestrian volumes; and
• the cost is about the same as HRM's recommended Option #2.
At the February 24th Regional Council meeting the following recommendation was approved (with one amendment):
• The Spring Garden streetscape design be revisited by all of the stakeholders over the spring and summer of 2009 and once a consensus has been reached, the design be brought back to Regional Council for approval.
• A streetscape and undergrounding design project for Ochterloney Street be accelerated to determine feasibility, design detail, costs and timelines.
• The preferred option to be identified through completion of the schematic design report for Quinpool Road, proceed into Phase II, Detailed Design and Construction Documents.
• Staff work to assemble other sources of funding for Council approval in support of the streetscape program
• As part of 09/10 budget deliberations staff make recommendations to Regional Council on the streetscape and undergrounding projects to advance in 09/10.
Recommendation was approved by Council, with the amendment that staff report back on whether Ochterloney Street or Quinpool Road would proceed this year.
As a result, the Spring Garden Road Streetscaping Project will not proceed this spring. Once community support exists for a specific project scope, the project may be funded, subject to Council approval.
Reports in the media that the consultant's report recommended closing Spring Garden Road to vehicles other than Metro Transit buses and taxis are inaccurate. As evidenced by the content of the recommended Option #2 above, there is no mention of closing the street to cars.
Also, reference has been made to HRMbyDesign supporting the closure of streets to cars. HRMbyDesign does not promote a vehicle free downtown. Rather it promotes a beautiful and walkable downtown in which people will have the choice to not own a car and to use transit or active transportation instead.
For more information on the Spring Garden Road Streetscaping Project, visit: www.halifax.ca/IAM.
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Infrastructure & Asset Management