Time to tear down the wall?

Grand Falls-Wind­sor coun­cil pon­ders whether high­way me­dian should go

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Front Page - BY SA­MAN­THA GARDINER

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.

Detri­men­tal im­pact

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.

SA­MAN­THA GARDINER PHOTO

The Town Coun­cil of Grand Falls-Wind­sor is pon­der­ing whether this me­dian, di­vid­ing the Trans Canada High­way through the town, should be taken down.

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