Time to tear down the wall?
Grand Falls-Windsor council ponders whether highway median should go
GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – It was controversial when it was built more than 20 years ago, and the new town council in Grand Falls-Windsor says it might be time to tear down the wall.
The wall in question is the median dividing the Trans-Canada Highway through the town.
At the Oct. 24 town council meeting, Councillor Darren Finn said the town is losing potential visitors, and money, because of the median.
According to Finn, about two million people drive through Grand Falls-Windsor each year, and very few of them stop in the town.
Council is currently trying to get funding for a highway strategy. Mayor Barry Manuel explained council hopes to prepare a plan that would improve appearance, signage and connectivity, “so we have better access to the community, better signage reflecting what’s going on in the community, and a better look to our community.”
No other highway towns in this province, with the exception of Corner Brook, have a concrete median dividing the Trans-Canada. In Gander and Clarenville, traffic moving east or west can easily turn off the highway.
In Grand Falls-Windsor, travellers must choose exit ramps to get off the Trans-Canada and into the town.
Town councillors believe travellers often plan their rest stops in more accessible towns, rather than stopping in Grand Falls-Windsor.
They say this is due in part to the median, which they say drives businesses away from the highway and makes the town a less appealing place for travellers to stop.
“It is something that we would like to work with government [on] through this highway strategy to ensure we are doing everything we can to benefit our community and particularly, our business community when it comes to all the traffic that’s passing through on an annual basis,” said Manuel.
Council has not yet decided if it will ask the provincial government to take the median down, recognizing this would come with significant costs. But since the median was put up over 20 years ago, the median has had “a detrimental impact on our economy,” Manuel told the Advertiser
“It is disappointing that Grand Falls- Windsor’s economy has taken such a hit when other communities have not been subjected to the same fate,” he said. “We want to explore what impact this median has had, and … whether it’s feasible to take the median out. “We want to make sure that at the end of the strategy we have a plan in place to support our business community.”
Council is in the early stages of seeking funding to support the highway strategy, but Manuel hopes within the next 12 months council will have a final report.
The Town Council of Grand Falls-Windsor is pondering whether this median, dividing the Trans Canada Highway through the town, should be taken down.