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Property owners kept in loop for release of road upgrade plan

by Keith Corcoran

 BRIDGEWATER - New sets of traffic signals and the addition of a roundabout are part of a concept plan for a major road upgrade to North Street and Aberdeen Road, which the town's engineering department estimates could get started in 2010.

 The town and the engineering consulting firm CBCL presented their idea to widen North Street and part of Aberdeen Road to make room for a vehicle turning lane, sidewalks and bicycle lanes. The plan includes traffic signals at the Haven Drive and Seasons Drive intersection, the intersection at the entrance leading to a hotel and the old South Shore Mall property, and a roundabout replacing traffic lights at the North Street-Aberdeen Road intersection.

 "We certainly will be glad to hear your comments and want to hear your comments because we want to get this right," Mayor Carroll Publicover said at the start of a January 14 public meeting to discuss the project.

 Businesses appreciated being consulted.

 "I think it's important to keep us involved," said Bernice Theriault, who manages a North Street hotel. "There are 110 people in this room. We care about what's happening. We want to know what is happening and if you don't keep us in the loop it's not going to work in the long run and I think it's absolutely essential to keep that kind of communication open."

 Rick Giffin of CBCL said the plan is to build 1.5-metre-wide bicycle lanes and 1.8-metre-sidewalks on North Street.

 "That considerably widens the roadway and therefore has to impact on the adjacent properties," he told the meeting.

 A Silvers Brook culvert would be extended and the installation of a new retaining wall near a car dealership would allow for a sidewalk to be built in that area, Mr. Giffin indicated.

 The idea of traffic lights at the intersection leading in and out of land-leased communities Eisenhauer Place and LaHave Heights was welcome news to resident Sherry Aulenback. She obtained signatures from her Eisenhauer Place neighbourhood and presented a petition to the town. Before handing over the document she urged officials to place high importance on getting those lights installed.

 Another Eisenhauer Place resident, John MacLean, asked about the impact on the intersection while construction takes place.

 "There's only one entrance in and one entrance out," he said.

 Town engineer Harland Wyand estimated half of North Street would have to be open while building takes place on the other.

 LaHave Street resident Heather Johnson wondered what will happen with increased traffic flow on her street, which will likely become a temporary detour route.

 Although there were no promises of a quick fix, Bridgewater's planning director, Eric Shaw, was sure measures are on the horizon to improve the northern end of LaHave Street.

 Mr. Giffin noted the intersection at the Comfort Inn and old South Shore Mall would be realigned and include installation of traffic lights.

 David Fancy of the LaHave River Credit Union, which neighbours the Comfort Inn, learned the plan is to close one of the driveways leading to his business.

 "I'm surprised," he said, directing his comments to Harland Wyand, the town's engineer, "because you made us put two there when we built it."

 Other North Street businesses were concerned about the project's timeline and the traffic situation while construction takes place.

 "We are businesses that depend on drive-by traffic. Rerouting them down LaHave Street means they're heading out of town or heading to another part of town," said Ms Theriault, who fears tourist traffic will avoid her hotel as a result.

 To help ensure the job is done with minimal traffic disruption, Tim O'Regan of O'Regan's South Shore asked those in attendance to lobby town councillors.

 Mr. Wyand suggested signage making the public aware of the businesses could be incorporated into the job's tendering and specifications.

 A firm timeline wasn't available because the decision impacts the town's 2009-10 budget which isn't finalized. Although the engineering department recommends taking multiple steps to finish the project, Mr. Wyand sees it differently.

 "I'd like to see it done in one phase if at all possible," he said.

 The Aberdeen Road upgrade, between Elm Street and the intersection with North Street-Glen Allan Drive, will see a narrower centre turning lane but a wider sidewalk for bicycles and pedestrians. Mr. Giffin indicated this avoids having to take down all the large trees along the street, although he mentioned a few trees would have to come down to make room.

 None of the speakers at the meeting opposed the idea of a roundabout replacing traffic signals at the North Street-Aberdeen Road intersection.

 Mike MacDonald of CBCL said issues could come up with traffic backing up between the old mall property and the roundabout but it's a matter that can be resolved with specific detection techniques.

 "We think that this is a real possibility, a real beneficial solution to this intersection and all signs point to this as being a real benefit, reducing delay [and] being safer," he said.

 Keith Boddy of the province's Transportation Department was on hand to talk about benefits of roundabouts.

 He wasn't present to endorse the Bridgewater idea but he did mention roundabouts are proven to reduce occurrences of traffic collision injuries.

 "This is just an intersection treatment and it's not going to solve all the world's problems but it's an excellent tool for the right application," he said.

 But Aberdeen Road resident Clifford Rhodenizer thinks another safer route for tractor-trailers should be found before the town goes ahead with the upgrade.

 Mr. Wyand acknowledged there is an issue with big rigs and there hasn't been success in talks with the province's Transportation Department but believes town council will keep trying to find a solution.



posted on 01/20/09
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