My lovely lady friend is going back to school this fall to do her Master’s degree, and so I’m more keenly aware than usual of the comings and goings of students in the city. In particular, today is the first day of classes, and the difference in traffic patterns is kind of insane.
There’s a kind of “danger zone” around the university through which a tremendous amount of traffic passes. I missed this fact throughout most of the previous school year because I was living and working on the same end of the city. Now that I live on one end and work on the other, I am passing through that zone every day, and the delay involved in driving down Prince Philip and, to a lesser extent, Elizabeth, is starting to get on my nerves.
Prince Philip is particularly egregious, because it is designed to be a thoroughfare. There are multiple overpasses for students, but still there is a ton of congestion at a couple of crossing points. Allandale Road next to the ACC, Engineering and Business faculties, and Education building crosswalks, I am looking at you here.
I’m not sure what the answer is here. It’s nice to see people out and about, but having multiple crosswalks in a high-traffic area on and around a 70kph arterial road is kind of crazy. The city isn’t exactly planned by the loosest of standards, but it seems like this situation in particular is begging for reconsideration.
If I were considering it ab initio, looking at the parking layout on campus, it would seem that perhaps the entirety of the parkway would be better off as a raised road with fewer, more carefully-planned offramps. But there’s already a campus and a roadway, so any solution would have to consider the situation as-is. Still, there are a few possible solutions that come to mind:
- The easiest, cheapest solution at present would be to fence off the roadway and just pour some additional concrete at Allandale and Westerland for off/on-ramps. This would require a few additional changes in proximity to the parkway, as it would cut off the parking areas around St. John’s Chapel/Coughlan College and Paton College.
- At a little more expense, the university and city could partner to add overhead or tunneled walkways at those same intersections. It would still be best if the intersections by the Engineering/Business faculties and Coughlan/Paton were fenced off.
- More drastically, the entirety of the road in this area of town could be raised or tunneled. This is kind of a ridiculous suggestion, but if we were planning for a city that had hopes to service several hundred thousand to one million residents, it might well be warranted. Whether this is a reasonable idea depends largely on provincial rather than municipal considerations.
I don’t know why this seemed important to me today, but I feel like St. John’s is a city in desperate need of a planner. My own property, as well as my neighbours’, has two large easements across it thanks to a couple of heavy duty power lines running across the middle. It’s the kind of thing that makes you step back and wonder who’s in charge and what they’re thinking about. I’m sure running a city is hard, and planning for an uncertain future must be an absolutely brutal endeavour. But it has to be done, and it’s best done with plenty of input.