BAY ROBERTS LOOKS AT HIGHWAY’S ECONOMIC FUTURE
Tract Consulting offers ideas to improve safety and aesthetics
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.
The key findings of interviews and surveys concerning the Conception Bay Highway in Bay Roberts were presented during a recent town council meeting.