Some of the bikeway infrastructure already installed on Allan Street, at the corner of Chebucto Lane, shown in a July 2019 Google Streetview image. Credit: Google Streetview

The municipality is looking for a contractor to rebuild the intersection of Oak, Oxford and Allan streets with traffic signals and new cycling infrastructure.

The work is part of the city’s Allan/Oak Local Street Bikeway project, creating a cycling route, albeit with no protected bike lanes. The bikeway, like the one on nearby Vernon Street, uses curb extensions and speed humps to slow traffic.

A sign denoting the local street bikeway at the corner of Allan and Havard streets, with speed humps in the background, as shown in a July 2019 Google Streetview image. Credit: Google Streetview

The municipality has already added those features to much of the rest of Allan Street, stopping at Harvard Street. Residents of Harvard have taken legal action against the municipality to stop the construction of a diagonal diverter at the intersection of Harvard and Allan.

The plan was also to rename part of Allan Street to Oak Street, and part of Harvard Street to something new.

As the Halifax Examiner reported in August 2018:

In May, Halifax council passed a resolution for the “Implementation of Local Street Bikeways on Vernon-Seymour and Allan-Oak Corridors.” The bikeway plan calls for various design changes to the roadway, the biggest of which are curb extensions at Oak and Oxford Streets and the diagonal diverter at Harvard and Allan Streets.

The plan for the diagonal diverter at Harvard and Allan Streets.

The staff report for council described the diverter as follows:

A raised intersection median will placed diagonally across the intersection of Allan and Harvard Streets from northeast to southwest corners. The diverter will force a left hand turn on approach from Allan Street, and a right hand turn on approach from Harvard Street. Two 1.8m gaps in the median permit through passage by bicycles only — cyclists can proceed left, right or straight. Pedestrians may proceed as usual crossing at any four legs of the intersection with painted crosswalks. This treatment will help to reduce traffic volumes on the street.

City staff had conducted an online survey of residents in the area; surveys were submitted by 36 residents “immediately abutting” both the Allan-Oak and the Vernon-Seymour bikeways proposals, while 77 surveys were submitted by residents of streets adjacent to the proposed bikeways.

The residents who applied to the court are having none of it, however. The application claims that the diverter will serve to increase traffic on Harvard Street between Allan Street and Chebucto Road, as well as on Lawrence and Duncan Streets.

“Most detrimental,” reads the application:

the proposed diagonal diversion will prevent emergency vehicles from taking the quickest and most efficient route to reach any of the residents in the Project Area in an emergency situation. Such increase of time could have dire or even fatal consequences.

“More generally, diverting all vehicular traffic to one direction only at the intersection of Havard and Allan Streets will increase travel time throughout the Applicants’ residential community, will block the current and direct availability of access to the local shopping area, will make access to neighbourhood stores much more difficult to reach by vehicle, will unnecessarily increase air pollution and gas consumption, and will prohibit the Applicants and all other vehicular traffic from accessing Allan Street to travel east from the north part of Harvard Street.

The applicants say they’re not opposed to the rest of the bikeway plan, just the diverter and the name change for their stretch of Harvard Street.

The Examiner has asked the municipality whether it’s still planning to build the diverter and we’ll update this post with the response.*

But for now, it appears the municipality is skipping that intersection, and working on the bigger, busier one at Oak, Oxford and Allan.

The current configuration there stops traffic on Oak and Allan, while Oxford flows through. There’s a lit crosswalk across Oxford just north of the intersection.

The new plans call for full traffic signals stopping traffic on Oxford, activated by cyclist or pedestrian push buttons. Vehicles on Oak and Allan won’t be permitted to drive straight through the intersection, only left or right. There are also curb bump-outs on the northeast and southwest corners.

The plans in the tender documents for the corner of Oak, Oxford and Allan streets (right click and open in new window to see detail).

Cyclists will be able to travel straight through the intersection, with the protection of traffic being stopped on Oxford.

The tender, posted Thursday, closes on April 23.

“The work generally consists of full depth asphalt removal and recapitalization of Allan Street, cold planing and recapitalization of the Oxford Street intersection, replacement of curb, installation of bump outs, partial replacement of sidewalk, installation of traffic signals and removal of existing RA-5’s [crosswalk signals],” the tender documents say.

The project is budgeted at $250,000 in the 2021-2022 capital budget.

As the Halifax Examiner reported last month, the city’s full cycling network is now expected to be complete by 2025 — three years late.

Update: April 14, 2021

In an emailed statement, municipal spokesperson Klara Needler wrote:

Construction for phase one on Allan Street (east of the intersection at Harvard Street) was completed in 2018 – this phase of work included curb extensions, signage, sharrow pavement markings and speed humps. Design for the section between Harvard and Connaught is underway. The staff report on the project can be found here.

The Request for Tender – Allan Street Bikeway – Allan Street – West Region is for the second phase of the project. Please note that this will not be the final phase of the project – as per Council’s direction, a diverter is planned but is currently on hold, pending the result of the court action.

Work for phase two is planned on other sections of the corridor in 2021. The main project will be a new intersection treatment at Oxford, Allan and Oak streets that includes new signals and pavement markings. There will also be engagement and potential implementation of traffic calming on Oak Street, from Allan to Connaught streets, in 2021.

Pending the outcome of litigation that is still in progress, the municipality is still planning to build a diverter at Allan and Harvard streets, as per Regional Council’s motion on May 8, 2018.

This matter is still before the Court.

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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  1. I am a year-round cyclist and live near Allan Street. I really hope they ditch the diagonal diverter idea. I use this intersection all the time and do not see how blocking it for cars will help cyclists. It will cause major car traffic issues in the neighbournood, not the least of which will be a major increase in traffic on Chebucto Lane, currently a bicycle and pedestrian-friendly route a block away.

  2. It’s good that they seem to have abandoned the diagonal diverter, which was the worst idea I have seen yet. It is hard to believe how anyone would believe that that would make the intersection safer for cyclists. Currently there is a 4-way stop there, and visibility is good. If the diverter were in place, cars would not stop but just roll through those turns, and bicycles would be expected to travel through a narrow funnel and then out through that turning traffic. Very dangerous, and also a massive inconvenience to residents of Yale and Yukon streets especially, who would then only have vehicular access from Quinpool Rd. The staff coming up with these ‘solutions’ may have degrees in planning and traffic engineering, but do they live in the area, or have experience cycling in the area? I suspect not. It is good that the city is paying attention to cycling infrastucture, but it seems to be taking the wrong approach at every opportunity. Protected lanes would be ideal where possible, but the current approach of bump-outs etc., while slowing car traffic slightly, also reduces visibilty and creates numerous pinch-points that didn’t previously exist. As someone who has cycled around this city for many years I find much of the new infrastructure such as on Vernon St., and at Agricola and Charles, makes me feel less safe than before.

    1. I biked on Vernon St about 3 weeks ago and thought to myself – those pinch points – make zero sense, if you’re a cyclist ! I thought that a better design, if they wanted those pinch points, to let the bikes continue straight, with either a open curb, to ride thru or like those that are designed for pedestrians from street level to sidewalks.
      I remember seeing that diverter plan, I live on Yale St and thought, some residents are getting the short end of the stick there. But now thinking about this – there is a consultant working to put a MacDonald’s on the Athens Restaurant site and if this side yard variance is allowed to go thru, vehicle traffic, will be astronomical via Harvard, Allan, Oxford and Quinpool.

      1. Yes and the bump outs on Oxford at Berlin and one of the other corners are bad pinch points too. They needlessly push you out into traffic at the narrowest part of the street. I raised the point with my councillor and one of the cycling advocacy groups (maybe the HCC) and each reapplied with some quotes about how it’s safer for cyclists. All I know is I feel really unsafe being forced out like that.