Herring Cove Road at Cowie Hill Road in a 2019 Google Streetview image. Credit: Google Streetview

Councillors on the municipal Transportation Standing Committee need more time to digest the big plans for Herring Cove Road.

As the Halifax Examiner reported on the weekend:

The massive, 599-page document includes four reports on the road redesign. It’s the culmination of a process that started in 2018 when the committee asked for a staff report on adding bus lanes and active transportation infrastructure to the road from Spryfield to the Armdale Rotary.

In that document is a mix of 30%-complete designs from 2019 and 60%-complete designs from September 2020. The idea is to vastly improve transit, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure on the road to encourage commuters to reconsider their cars as development booms in the area.

Municipal staff are recommending in favour of bus and bike lanes for most of the 5.5-km stretch of road being redesigned, along with a continuous sidewalk where there are now gaps and subpar asphalt walking surfaces. For more detail, read the story linked above, or for all the detail, read the staff report.

To give residents and themselves more time to do that, councillors decided on Thursday not to vote on the plans just yet.

“I think that something like this is really hard for the general public to really look at and respond to,” said Coun. Patty Cuttell, whose Spryfield-Sambro Loop-Prospect Road district includes about half the section of Herring Cove Road being redesigned.

Coun. Shawn Cleary’s Halifax West Armdale district includes the other half of Herring Cove Road being redesigned. That’s section, from the Armdale Rotary to Glenora Avenue is now 60% designed, and he’s supportive of the addition of bike and bus infrastructure.

“It will make transit competitive with private vehicles and that is super exciting,” Cleary said.

Cleary raised concerns about delaying the budget for work on the plans this year —$250,000 for design and part of the total $3 million for land acquisition — but was told those activities will go ahead even without a vote from the committee on Thursday.

Coun. Waye Mason, chair of the committee, raised concerns about the municipality’s ability to complete the work in a reasonable timeframe.

“I don’t want to be building the Herring Cove Road to this standard in 2027. I think that’s too late,” Mason said.

The committee deferred the vote until its next regular meeting, scheduled for April 22. After that, it will go to council. The finalized plans will come back to the committee and council before going to tender.

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Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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