St. John’s city councillors couldn’t agree on whether it worked, how well it was constructed or even what it’s called — but the Topsail Road traffic circle will be removed.
This roundabout or traffic circle, located at the intersection of Old Topsail Road and McLoughlan Street, will be removed following a vote at St. John’s city council on Tuesday. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/Thec Telegram
City council voted at its regular meeting Tuesday night to remove the concrete and metal structure — often inaccurately called a “roundabout” — at the T-intersection of Topsail Road and McLoughlin Street, which was installed in 2012 at a cost of more than $40,000, part of a traffic-calming pilot project on Topsail Road.
“We are getting a number of complaints about safety issues. People are simply not using it properly because it’s not a properly designed roundabout,” said Coun. Art Puddister, chairman of the city’s traffic committee. “It’s a safety issue … and I think it needs to be taken out.”
Ward 3 Coun. Bruce Tilley was in favour of the plan when it was implemented, but says he’s received several complaints from residents in the area warning of near-accidents.
“I’ve had 16 calls since it’s been there. Sixteen calls with respect to T-bones. Now, if you don’t like T-bones, you can get a filet, whatever you want,’’ Tilley said.
Tilley later clarified for The Telegram that the complaints he’s received were of close calls, not collisions, and that there have actually been zero reported accidents at the intersection since the circle was installed.
Coun. Jonathan Galgay — who voted in favour of removal — said the fire department’s larger vehicles can’t easily get around the circle, slowing response times.
Other councillors — Tom Hann, Dave Lane and Bernard Davis — supported leaving the circle in, saying too much money was spent constructing the circle to simply remove it, and suggesting the city hasn’t done a sufficient job educating drivers on how to use it.
Mayor Dennis O’Keefe was also against removing the circle, saying it has had the desired effect of calming traffic.
“It’s not that difficult to navigate if you pay attention to the signs,” he said. “With the circle there, everybody slows down. When I approach that circle, I slow down and I move to the right and go around it and go down old Topsail Road. That’s it. … It did what it was supposed to do.”
The traffic circle will be replaced with a speed bump, likely sometime this summer, said Puddister. O’Keefe estimates the cost to remove the traffic circle at $10,000 to $15,000.