SAINT JOHN – It’s been a mixed bag here in the Port City lately. Tuesday marked the 225th anniversary of the incorporation of Canada’s ‘original city’; Commercial Properties presented a town clock at the corner of King & Prince William streets, with organizers putting on a gala celebration at Harbour Station marking the beginning of an eight month extravaganza.
The day before the festivities, marked the beginning of $35 million worth of construction work on the Saint John Harbour Bridge. Harbour Passage, the pedestrian route between the North End and West Side of the city and Uptown, is to be effectively closed this summer, autumn & next year (photos here). See you in 2012!
At a community information session held 4 days before construction started, dozens of Saint John citizens took aim at the plan to strip away their recreational and commuter use of the Passage. Overflowing with voices asking for a safe alternative route, Ken Anthony, general manager of the bridge authority, said they’ve been working with the City and the Waterfront Development Corporation towards a route “that’s number one, not too inconvenient and number two, is still fairly safe from traffic”. Nevertheless, the Alternative Route suggests that safety from traffic wasn’t a priority issue. Local business owner Jeff Roach’s blog post takes a look at this. How safe would you feel biking on/walking along a highway?
Although the transformation of Main Street into a 6 lane through-way took place decades ago, it continues to separate The North End & West Side neighbourhoods from Uptown; the Harbour Passage was a (partial) successful remediation. I suggest partial, only on the hopes that Main Street (the highway) is transformed back into Main Street (the original).
I’m certain various alternatives such as safety nets under the bridge were considered and yet not implemented; if there was a highway running below the bridge, would we get the same result? A minor inconvenience this is not… it’s closing for two years, and even then the vocal outrage was somehow ‘unexpected‘? The lack of consultation leaves a bitter taste for the hundreds if not thousands of people using the trail.
As the repair work on the bridge progresses, lane reductions don’t feel nearly the same as walking up to a chain link fence.
Photograph by (c) Cindy Wilson/Telegraph-Journal – Joggers along Harbour passage on a sunny afternoon.