BAY ROBERTS LOOKS AT HIGH­WAY’S ECO­NOMIC FU­TURE

Tract Con­sult­ing of­fers ideas to im­prove safety and aes­thet­ics

The Compass - - Front Page - BY CHRIS LEWIS [email protected]­n­com­pass.ca

Known lo­cally at The Golden Mile, the sec­tion of the Con­cep­tion Bay High­way that runs through Bay Roberts is trav­elled by thou­sands of ve­hi­cles ev­ery day.

The Town of Bay Roberts be­lieves the high­way needs im­prove­ments to make it safer for mo­torists and pedes­tri­ans, and to make it more vis­ually ap­peal­ing.

In or­der for this to be­come a re­al­ity, Tract Con­sult­ing was hired to as­sess this busy street, and make rec­om­men­da­tions for im­prove­ments.

Tract Con­sult­ing is the same com­pany that worked with the Town of Car­bon­ear on its down­town re­vi­tal­iza­tion pro­ject.

The com­pany in­ter­viewed busi­ness own­ers and oth­ers in the town re­gard­ing what’s the Main Street Busi­ness District, to iden­tify ma­jor is­sues with the high­way, and ask for sug­ges­tions for changes.

Neil Dawe, pres­i­dent of Tract Con­sult­ing, said they con­ducted over 20 in­ter­views, 38 busi­ness sur­veys and 152 in­di­vid­ual sur­veys in Bay Roberts and sur­round­ing ar­eas.

In a pre­sen­ta­tion by Tract Con­sult­ing to the Town of Bay Roberts on Tues­day, Nov. 13, Dawe said, “You’ve got 18,000 plus ve­hi­cles on this road daily.

“You’ve also got a catch­ment of 11,000 peo­ple, which is def­i­nitely not in­signif­i­cant. When you add your sea­sonal vis­i­tors – cabin own­ers and tourists – that num­ber in­creases even more.”

Mayor Phillip Wood spoke with The Com­pass about the re­port, it’s find­ings, and what the next step would be for the pro­ject, not­ing that the op­por­tu­nity to give the street an over­haul – both vis­ually and safety-wise – is some­thing coun­cil has had on the agenda for quite some time. He says that this pro­ject is the next step to see­ing that pan out, though it could still be some time be­fore any­thing comes to­gether.

“It’s in the pre­lim­i­nary stages. It comes back to what we orig­i­nally wanted to do, and that’s to in­volve the busi­ness com­mu­nity, and res­i­dents alike, in mak­ing this area of town as ap­peal­ing as it can be,” he said. “Now that this ini­tial process is com­plete, now coun­cil has the op­por­tu­nity to have a look through and add any­thing else they’d like to see, or any changes they feel are nec­es­sary. Af­ter that, there’ll be a fi­nal re­port to come, whereby some firm rec­om­men­da­tions will come.”

Some as­pects of this pro­ject have al­ready been car­ried out by coun­cil through­out 2018. This in­cluded new a new set of traf­fic lights and cross­walks near one of the busier in­ter­sec­tions along the stretch of road.

In or­der to im­prove the road, the re­port from Tract Con­sult­ing iden­ti­fied cer­tain is­sues the road faced, in­clud­ing the safety of driv­ers and pedes­tri­ans.

Dawe noted peo­ple told them the area sim­ply was not as safe or ac­ces­si­ble as it could be for res­i­dents walk­ing near the street, adding that some peo­ple sur­veyed ad­mit­ted to avoid­ing the area al­to­gether.

“Busi­ness growth in these types of de­vel­op­ments is only suc­cess­ful if we cre­ate a pedes­trian-friendly en­vi­ron­ment, where peo­ple can get out of their ve­hi­cle, linger, en­joy them­selves, and spend their money,” said Dawe. “Sig­nif­i­cant ef­fort will be needed to im­prove safety and ac­cess.”

The area is noted for hav­ing a high ac­ci­dent rate.

The Tract Con­sult­ing re­port noted that in 2017, there were about 50 ac­ci­dents that took place along this stretch of road.

One of the ma­jor fac­tors, as stated dur­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion, was driv­ers mak­ing left-hand turns across traf­fic.

Some of the ma­jor rec­om­men­da­tions in the Tract Re­port in­cluded: the ad­di­tion of a round­about to the area, chang­ing the high­way from a four-lane road to a three-lane road, and adding a cen­tre-turn­ing lane.

“(The high­way) is a re­gional, com­mer­cial, and ser­vice cen­tre. You’re ser­vic­ing the re­gion, and I be­lieve the num­bers are around 30 per cent, when it comes to what this street is con­tribut­ing to the town’s com­mer­cial tax base,” said Dawe. “It’s the core of the lo­cal econ­omy, and it needs to re­spond to de­mo­graphic changes that we’re see­ing all over New­found­land.”

Tract Con­sult­ing also rec­om­mended adding trees to the streetscape, among other things, to beau­tify the area.

Dawe also noted the cre­ation of a theme for the area — sug­gest­ing the town fo­cus on its seafood con­nec­tions, such as the ever-pop­u­lar Songs, Stages, and Seafood Fes­ti­val.

Chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer for Bay Roberts, Nigel Black, ex­plained to The Com­pass that at present time, the pro­ject is still at an early stage where rec­om­men­da­tions and ideas are still be­ing tossed back and forth be­tween coun­cil and Tract Con­sult­ing.

“The pur­pose of this pre­sen­ta­tion was to pin­point a di­rec­tion for this, and for some con­fir­ma­tion as to whether or not coun­cil was ready and will­ing to move for­ward af­ter see­ing the pre­lim­i­nary rec­om­men­da­tions,” he said.

COM­PASS FILE PHOTO

The key find­ings of in­ter­views and sur­veys con­cern­ing the Con­cep­tion Bay High­way in Bay Roberts were pre­sented dur­ing a re­cent town coun­cil meet­ing.

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