A speed hump on Norwood Street by Sir Charles Tupper Elementary School, seen here in a 2016 Google Streetview image, is being replaced.

The city is planning to install speed humps on 10 streets around seven schools in Halifax and Sackville this summer, but a large portion of the municipality is left off the map.

Halifax regional councillors wanted to speed up efforts to slow down traffic across the municipality during this year’s original, pre-COVID-19 budget process. They asked the transportation and public works department how they could make that happen, and eventually voted to add $150,000 to the capital budget for “Traffic Calming Measures for School Zones.”

A briefing note to councillors at the time, back in February, said:

Given this late juncture in the streets/roads capital planning process, speed humps are the only traffic calming option that could be considered because they are the least complex traffic calming device that can be designed in time for 2020/21 implementation. Within existing staff resources, there is an option to implement speed humps for up to ten school zones on local streets (without bus routes) in general order of priority on the traffic calming eligibility list. For clarity, traffic calming would only be implemented at either end of the school zone itself and not the entire street. The proposed increase in funding of $150,000 is based on a high-level Class D estimate for two speed humps per school zone.

A tender went out online Monday morning seeking a contractor to install “School Zone Speed Humps” in “Various Locations.”

The document lists specific locations for a total of 16 speed humps around seven schools in five council districts:

  • Cavalier Drive at Cavalier Drive Elementary-Jr. High School (District 15 — Lower Sackville)
  • Connolly Street and Edgewood Avenue at St. Catherine’s Elementary School (District 8 — Halifax Peninsula North) 
  • Hillside Avenue at Hillside Park Elementary School (District 15 — Lower Sackville)
  • Kaye Street and Russell Street St. Joseph’s-Alexander McKay Elementary School (District 8 — Peninsula North)
  • Monarch Drive at Beaver Bank-Monarch Drive Elementary School (District 14 — Upper/Middle Sacvkille – Beaver Bank)
  • Sunnybrae Avenue and Central Avenue at Burton Ettinger Elementary School (District 10 — Halifax – Bedford Basin West)
  • Norwood Street at Sir Charles Tupper Elementary School (a replacement of the existing speed hump) (District 9 — Halifax West Armdale)

Along with the streets in the tender, there are speed humps planned for streets around an eighth school: on Camden Drive and Perth Street in Bedford, around Sunnyside Elementary School (Fort Sackville). Those streets appear on a list published online of traffic calming measures planned for this year.

Coun. Tim Outhit said that school zone isn’t part of the tender because the street is being repaved anyway, so the speed humps will come from a different budget line, not the $150,000 councillors added in February.

Although one of the speed humps is a replacement, not an addition, city spokesperson Erin DiCarlo said staff were able to meet the number of school zones council asked for — 10. The city is defining a zone not as the area around one school, but the street next to it. Some of the schools get four speed humps on two surrounding streets, some get two on the same street, and others just get one.

“The speed humps will be on ten different streets in the municipality, surrounding seven schools. The list in the tender groups the schools together,” DiCarlo said in an email.

DiCarlo said the overall cost may be lower than budgeted because there won’t be two speed humps on each street.

“The original estimate was based on a high-level Class D estimate for two speed humps per school zone. After closer review of characteristics at each site, it was determined that only one speed hump could be installed at three sites (Kaye Street, Russell Street and Monarch Drive) due to site grades,” DiCarlo said.

The streets were chosen using the usual criteria for traffic calming, and chosen from the existing list.

“Staff looked at all assessed streets specifically within school zones, excluding streets that are on transit routes, have been identified as primary response routes, or are not possible due to excessive site grades,” DiCarlo said.

Coun. Paul Russell represents Lower Sackville, with two sets of speed humps planned for this summer.

“Two is fantastic. I think it’s a start,” Russell said in an interview Monday.

Using a speed radar that Steve Craig — the last councillor for the district — purchased with district capital funding years ago, Russell’s been tracking speeding on streets in Lower Sackville over the last few months.

Coun. Paul Russell’s speed radar set up on Sackville Drive in May. Photo: Twitter/@SackvillePaul
Coun. Paul Russell’s speed radar set up on Sackville Drive in May. Photo: Twitter/@SackvillePaul

“It drives the conversation a lot more,” he said.

“A lot of people are saying, ‘It is also especially bad on our street. Can you bring that here? And what about our street?’”

Speeding is a problem across the municipality, according to councillors, often cited as the No. 1 driver of constituent complaints.

But none of the school zones chosen for speed humps is on the Dartmouth side of the harbour.

Coun. Lorelei Nicoll, representing Cole Harbour-Westphal, said she thinks there are none in that district because most of the schools are on bus routes, which makes those streets ineligible for traffic calming.

Nicoll believes the speeding problem has worsened over the last decade.

“It’s most frustrating but at the end of the day it’s a conversation that needs to be had,” she said.

Dartmouth Centre Coun. Sam Austin said there was one in the district he hoped would be on the list, Hawthorn Elementary on Hawthorne Street. A child was hit by a driver there last year. The child was OK, but Austin said the area has a speeding problem.

Staff told Austin a “more comprehensive design solution” than speed humps would make more sense.

“One of the main complaints that we get on council is of course traffic calming,” he said.

There are 15 other streets getting some kind of traffic calming — whether speed humps or other measures like raised crosswalks or curb extensions — this year through the regular process:

  • Joffre St. from from Sinclair St. to Portland St., District 5 — Dartmouth Centre
  • Karels Dr. from Jamieson Dr. to Marantha Dr., District 1 — Waverley-Fall River-Musquodoboit Valley
  • Winley Dr. from Windsor Junction Rd. to Ingram Dr., District 1 — Waverley-Fall River-Musquodoboit Valley
  • Portland Hills Dr. from Portland St. to Portland Estates Blvd., District 3 — Dartmouth South – Eastern Passage
  • Hillsboro Dr. from Barbara Dr. to Lundy Dr., District 4 — Cole Harbour – Westphal
  • Sandy Run from Thompson Run to White Hills Run, District 13 — Hammonds Plains St. Margarets
  • Blue Mountain Dr. from Larry Uteck Blvd. to Terradore Ln., District 13 — Hammonds Plains St. Margarets
  • White Hills Run from Pockwock Rd. to Bishops Gate Rd., District 13 — Hammonds Plains St. Margarets
  • Montebello Dr. from Waverley Rd. to Colonna Pl., District 6 — Harbourview – Burnside – Dartmouth East
  • Crestfield Dr. from Hammonds Plains Rd. to the end of the street, District 13 — Hammonds Plains St. Margarets
  • Stuart Harris Dr. from Mount Edward Rd. to La Pierre Cres., District 3 — Dartmouth South – Eastern Passage
  • Brentwood Ave. from Johnson Ave. to Greenwood Ave., District 12 — Timberlea Beechville Clayton Park
  • Danny Dr. from Beaverbank Rd. to Barrett Rd., District 14 — Upper/Middle Sackville – Beaver Bank
  • Concord Ave. from Richardson Dr. to Ingram Dr., District 1 — Waverley-Fall River-Musquodoboit Valley
  • Lexington Ave. from Richardson Dr. to Ingram Dr., District 1 — Waverley-Fall River-Musquodoboit Valley

There are another 218 in the queue on a ranked list here.

Zane Woodford

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. Traffic calming on Hawthorne St. – They ELIMINATED the left turning lane at Hawthorne (east side of intersection near Sinclair St) and Prince Albert Rd. Sam Austin told me he stood and watched the traffic for a whole 10 minutes and didn’t see a problem. A whole 10 minutes.

    20 streets flow from Silver’s Hill area onto Hawthorne St. – That left turning lane was there for a reason.

    Replaced it with bump-outs, so the pedestrians have a shorter distance to cross Hawthorne. How many people cross Hawthorne on the east side of the intersection as compared to crossing Prince Albert? Lots of people cross Hawthorne on the other side of the intersection (Duck Pond side). The rationale for eliminating the left turning lane baffles me. Now drivers will dart down Hawthorne, closer to the school and crosswalks, kids playing, no traffic lights or pedestrian crosswalk lights, down Erksine, across another crosswalk, and onto Elliot to get to Prince Albert.

    A left turning lane at a light controlled intersection is safer. This city needs to start adding left turning arrows to lights at intersections to prevent accidents.

    But what do I know. I’ve only lived in the area 30+ years, as opposed to the decision maker who sits in an office and doesn’t use that intersection. 20 streets flow onto Hawthorne St. A left turning lane is required with a left turning arrow, not bump-outs!

    1. It’s HRM ….everything at HRM is pricey….staff time is expensive,very expensive. I don’t think speed bumps work, drivers speed up after slowing down.
      At Bicentennial many parents park illegally on bright sunny days to make sure the precious ones get home. Kids wander leisurely across the road to a vehicle or because crossing at the lights and under the supervision of a crossing guard may mean walking another 20 or 30 yards. A plain clothes cop would make a fortune ticketing kids who are teens or kids who are old enough to know the rules.