Move to change Queen Street shelved ... for now
(excerpts from article by Heather McLaughlin, Daily Gleaner, September 29, 20100
Queen Street won't be changing directions any time soon.
City councillors have decided to heed the fears of the downtown business community and hold off converting the section between Regent and St. John streets from one way to two way.
The city planned to remove parking on both sides of Queen and make it four lanes: a dedicated turning lane onto St. Anne Point Boulevard for traffic heading to the Westmorland Street Bridge; two through lanes meeting up with the two one-way lanes westbound on Queen; and a turning lane onto Regent Street.
Downtown Fredericton Inc. and business owners pleaded with council to temporarily shelve the traffic plan, arguing it puts vehicles ahead of promoting the ambiance of the downtown and encouraging people to slow down, park and shop.
The business owners said removing parking from the lower end of Regent Street between King and Queen streets has increased traffic speed.
The city's traffic consultant, Don Good of ADI Ltd., and its own traffic engineering staff countered that the reconfiguration of the street system is essential in making the traffic flows around the new downtown east-end convention centre complex move properly.
Councillors voted 10 to two in favour of keeping the traffic status quo, at least for the short term.
"I do think the business community has done a good job of representing some of the reasons why we should maybe take a second to consider what the implications are," said Coun. Jordan Graham. "Traffic is an important consideration, but we have to look at more than that, particularly the implications of downtown parking."
Coun. Mike O'Brien said he doesn't doubt that traffic issues may develop, but there's no harm in a delay.
"The worst case in a delay is that the need for changes are identified and we have to put some paint and signs up in a year or two," he said.
Marysville Coun. Steven Hicks and Coun. Scott McConaghy said that given the city's financial investment in the downtown convention centre, they should heed the advice of traffic experts and make the project as successful as possible.
Mayor Brad Woodside said the motion to reconsider the resolution to make the traffic change and table it isn't a guarantee that the street changes won't happen. Woodside made it clear that if the traffic situation becomes unworkable, the city will have to intervene.
Councillors didn't specify a time frame for leaving Queen Street as is. Downtown Fredericton Inc. had suggested a two-year moratorium.
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