The Town of Carbonear passed motions at the most recent council meeting that could pave the way for the first roundabouts in the Conception Bay North community’s history.
Public works chair Vic Jenkins introduced two motions towards the end of the Tuesday, March 12 meeting. One involved a roundabout for the intersection of Powell Drive, Industrial Crescent and Whites Road. The town agreed to proceed with a design tender for that roundabout. Jenkins referred to this as “additional changes that the town may like to include for Powell Drive.”
The town also approved roadwork along Route 70 near Powell Drive to accommodate new commercial activity in the area. That work will include new turning lanes and a realignment of the existing traffic lights at the Columbus —Powell drives intersection. The realignment will allow the town to lengthen the northbound turning lane to access Powell Drive.
The second roundabout, which came up in a second motion, would be located at the intersection of Powell Drive, Pondside Road and Lower Southside Road. The town contracted Harris and Associates to proceed with drawings for that proposed roundabout.
“Any decision that we make with regards to road changes … the safety of the residents and the visitors is always at the top, and of course it trickles down to the economic part,” Mayor Frank Butt told The Compass in an interview on Thursday, March 14.
According to the mayor, council anticipates a lot more traffic coming towards downtown Carbonear as it works through the ongoing revitalization project for the area. It’s looking at ways to improve safety around a couple of troublesome intersections.
In the case of the intersection at Industrial Crescent, Whites Road and Powell Drive, Butt said a number of business entrances nearby could create problems for drivers. The mayor said there have been quite a few accidents near the intersection.
“You’ve got to be pretty quick to make your decision to get out there,” Butt said, adding he believes a roundabout would ease congestion and improve the flow of traffic.
The town has not committed to build the roundabout at this intersection, but it will have an understanding of the cost once the design tender is assessed. Butt said this would give council the option of doing it at a later date or not at all if cost becomes an issue.
A similar predicament faces motorists at the Powell Drive, Pondside Road and Lower Southside Road intersection, where Powell Drive changes to Beach Road. The mayor said locals seem have a decent understanding of how to navigate the intersection, but he admits visitors would probably have trouble with it — particularly so if the painted lines are worn out.
“I see people in front of me sometimes, and I can tell they’re not from here, because they just really don’t know what to do,” he said, noting this intersection has also had its share of accidents.
The roundabouts would initially be single-lane. Butt said the town would have the option to expand to double-lanes down the road if the traffic volume merits doing so. He said the town would also consult the public and help educate residents on the use of roundabouts.
“For some people when they hear the word ‘roundabout’ they sort of cringe and say, ‘My God.’ It can be intimidating. But I’ve used them and if you just have training … and an open forum to discuss how they operate, people will understand it and hopefully there’ll be less accidents in the area.”
There are no roundabouts in the Conception Bay North region, but Tuesday’s news from Carbonear was the second such mention at a local council meeting. The night before, Harbour Grace town councillors gave approval to set up a single-lane roundabout on Veteran’s Memorial Highway where it meets Jamie’s Way and Glover Road. That proposed roundabout, designed to accommodate commercial developments planned for the area, would also need approval from the provincial government.