News

1. Tuition

“For the seventh year in a row, Dalhousie University plans to raise the tuition fees it charges students,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

The three per cent increase is the maximum the province allows universities to charge and still receive a one per cent increase in their annual operating grant from the government. An undergraduate science student (page 7) at Dalhousie already pays $8,939 a year — the highest tuition in the country. We’re Number One!

Click here to read “Dalhousie University is preparing to raise tuition, again.”

2. Putting buses on the Macdonald Bridge ramp

Google satellite shot of the Barrington Street ramp where it meets the Macdonald Bridge.

On Thursday, Halifax council’s Transportation Committee will receive a report from Halifax Transit examining options for putting buses on the ramp from Barrington Street to the Macdonald Bridge. Doing so will allow express buses from downtown to Dartmouth to be taken off Gottingen Street. The report is written by Erin Blay, who is the supervisor of Service Design & Projects at Halifax Transit.

Blay explains that Halifax Transit hired CBCL Limited to examine the situation, and the firm came back with four options:

Option 1: Left Lane on Ramp for Transit Only 

In this option, the existing left lane on the bridge ramp would be used by transit only. By starting the turn in the left lane, the bus is provided enough space to safely maneuver from the ramp to the curb lane on the bridge. Buses should be using the curb lane while traveling across the bridge, so a dedicated transit signal phase would be needed to allow buses to enter the curb bridge lane, ahead of general traffic. This was the lowest cost option, estimated at $63,000, but also has the highest impact to traffic. This option effectively reduces the bridge ramp to one lane of general traffic during the afternoon peak hours. This was found to have an unacceptable impact to general traffic, and transit.

Option 2: Widening at Intersection to Permit Right Turn from Curb Lane 

In this option, the existing two lane cross section on the ramp would be widened so buses could make the turn from the right lane on the ramp to the curb lane on the bridge. To accommodate these widened lanes, the pedestrian crossing would be lengthened by approximately 3m, accomplished by reducing the size of the existing pedestrian island. This option will have a notable negative impact on pedestrians crossing this busy intersection due to increased crossing distance. This cost estimate for this option is $251,000. This option is not expected to have a noticeable impact to general traffic. This option will provide transit and general traffic with equal priority.

Option 3: Lagging Transit Signal and Left Lane Transit Layby

In this option, the left ramp lane would be widened to accommodate a transit layby lane. Buses would pull into this lane, and wait for the end of the green signal cycle. A transit signal, after the green cycle, would allow transit to make a similar turn to option 1 (i.e. from the left lane into the curb lane on the bridge). The cost of this option is estimated at $221,000. The impact to general traffic for this option is less than that of Option 1, because two lanes of general traffic would still be maintained. However, this option is also expected to have a significant impact on traffic due to the change to signal timing required to accommodate the transit only phase. The bridge ramp is typically congested during the afternoon peak hours with the existing operation, and this will increase delay. General traffic will have slightly higher priority compared to transit in this scenario.

Option 4: Right Lane Transit Lay By

In this option, a transit layby would be added to the right side of the bridge ramp, where there is currently a pull over area used by the Halifax Harbour Bridge (HHB) staff. The pull over for HHB must be maintained, as staff use this area to monitor large container ships as they pass under the bridge to ensure that the ships clear the bridge, as expected. This option would require a new platform to be constructed, for use of HHB staff, as the existing layby would be used by transit vehicles. The estimated cost for this option is $685,000. Like Option 3, while transit vehicles will be removed from the queue on the approach to the intersection, this option will impact traffic due to the additional signal time added for a transit only phase. General traffic will have slightly higher priority compared to transit in this scenario.

“The preferred concept is Option 2,” writes Blay, “as it provides the highest benefit relative to the cost”:

The impacts to traffic are negligible, and will have the lowest delay for buses as well. It requires no major structural changes to the Macdonald Bridge, however there are also shortcomings to other road users including an increase to the pedestrian crossing distance of 3m.

The impact of the lengthened crossing could be mitigated by the introduction of a “No Right on Red” regulation however, at this time the implications of that change are still being considered. If directed by staff to undertake further study of this measure, a detailed design will be developed.

I have two questions:

1. Pedestrians: How do you view widening the pedestrian crossing by three metres, especially if it is combined with stopping the right turn on red? (My own view is that the right turn on red should be prohibited regardless; we should do away with right turn on red everywhere in the urban area.)

2. Now we know why the Bridge Commission trucks sit on the ramp — so that staff can make sure ships are clearing the bridge — but what are they supposed to do if the ships don’t clear the bridge? Swim out and pull the ships backward? Search for bodies thrown off the collapsed bridge?

In any event, even if the committee and then the full council agree to the recommended change, detailed designing and implementation wouldn’t happen until after the Cogswell Interchange is torn down and rebuilt as surface streets.

“If,” writes Blay, “upon the completion of the Cogswell Interchange redevelopment project, it’s found that travelling to Dartmouth via the Macdonald Bridge Ramp offers significant time savings, then the design work required to implement this modification could be planned for and included in a future budget year.” That’d be in the year 2020 at the earliest.

3. Shrubsall

“A convicted killer and sexual predator who could have spent his life in Canadian prison was instead back in the United States on Tuesday for a court hearing, as an American prosecutor questioned the Parole Board of Canada’s logic in sending him her way,” reports Michael Tutton for the Canadian Press:

“They made him our problem,” Niagara County District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek said of 47-year-old William Shrubsall, who fractured one of his victims’ skull with a baseball bat during his spree of violence in Nova Scotia during the late 1990s.

The board’s six-page ruling was based in part on the authors’ belief the offender would “face many more years” of incarceration in Niagara County — where he jumped bail during his trial for sexually abusing a 17-year-old girl in 1996.

Wojtaszek questioned that logic, saying there are limits on her ability to incarcerate Shrubsall, who has adopted the name Ethan Simon Templar MacLeod.

“There is nothing in that (parole board) decision that would leave society to be any safer than it was when he was first designated a dangerous offender,” she said.

Stephen Kimber discussed Shrubsall here.

4. Pourbaix Diagram

Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) is looking for someone to draw a “Pourbaix diagram of Nickel Aluminum Bronze (NAB) alloy in seawater, to aid in the prediction of the integrity of NAB under conditions of crevice corrosion.”

Yeah, I don’t know what a Pourbaix diagram is either. Presumably, however, somebody wearing a pocket protector at one of the universities does know what a Pourbaix diagram is, and can probably do the assigned task:

The Contractor must construct a Pourbaix diagram (Electrochemical Potential versus pH) of the NAB (UNS C95800) in natural seawater (as defined in Section 5.2) at a temperature within the range 10 – 14 °C, showing the thermodynamically stable species at varying pH levels (-2 to 16) and Electrochemical Potential (-2 to 2 Volts) (versus Standard Hydrogen Electrodes (SHE)). The diagram must have pH on the x-axis and Electrochemical Potential on the y-axis, and include all 4 kappa phases, as well as the alpha phase. Note that the alloy composition (as outlined in Section 5.3) and temperature must be held constant.

Through the miracle that is Google dot com, I’ve learned that Nickel Aluminum Bronze “offers superior salt water corrosion resistance. It also is resistant to cavitation and erosion. Along with the advantage of pressure tightness, this high strength alloy is excellent for welding and is available in many forms at a lower cost to you.”

I’ll just assume they’re going to be building missiles with that NAB.

5. Hall of fame

After reading yesterday’s discussion of black face, a reader sent me this photo of Paul O’Regan wearing “brown face.” “And we named a Hall after this dude?” comments the reader, referring to the auditorium at the new Central Library that bears O’Regan’s name. Stephen Plummer. Update: a reader tells me the photo on the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is captioned incorrectly, and it is Plummer in brown face.

Left to right: Stephen Plummer, Eleanor Humphries, Jim Mills, Paul O’Regan. Photo: Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia

The photo comes from the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia’s “Hall of Fame” webpage that evidently collects photos from various costume parties through the years. The above is from 2005.

I particularly like the 2006 photo, where Rob Steele, Sarah Dennis, Mickey MacDonald, and Danny Chedrawe dress as the pirates they are:

Rich people are weird.


Government

City

Wednesday

Budget Committee (Wednesday, 9:30am, City Hall) — here’s the agenda

Western Common Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 6:30pm, Prospect Road Community Centre) — here’s the agenda

Public Information Meeting -Case 21295 (Wednesday, 7pm, Cafeteria, Auburn Drive High School) — currently, there’s a convenience store at 272 Auburn Drive in Westphal, which is across the street from the parking lot for Auburn High School. In documents submitted to the city, lawyer Lloyd Robbins accuses the store of selling cigarettes to kids, but that’s neither here not there, as the store owner doesn’t own the property. Rather, Robbins wants the property rezoned for his unnamed client, the property owner, so that allowable uses on the site are expanded to include “food take out/variety store, office use including professional business, retail use, day care, medical clinic or personal service shops, and apartments within the existing building.” There’s no actual development application, but in drawings submitted, “bike storage” will be provided, so we know it’s going to be hip and sustainable and such so just approve it already.

Thursday

Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 2pm, City Hall) — see #2 above.

Province

Wednesday

No public meetings today.

Thursday

Natural Resources and Economic Development (Thursday, 9am, One Government Place) — a per diem meeting.


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

Thesis Defence, Earth Sciences (Wednesday, 1pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Harold Kuehn will defend his thesis, “Along-trench segmentation and downdip limit of the seismogenic zone at the eastern Alaska-Aleutian subduction zone.”

Official Launch of the new Imhotep’s Legacy Academy Learning Centre and Makerspace(Wednesday, 1pm, Room J134, Sexton Gymnasium Building) — from the listing:

Imhotep’s Legacy Academy (ILA) is dedicated to increasing the representation of traditionally-marginalized students in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) studies and careers. ILA, established in 2003, began as a university-community collaboration to build STEM capacity in the African Nova Scotian community, using volunteer professors to train university students who act as mentors to students in junior high and high school.

RSVP here.

Elina Vähälä, Strings Masterclass (Wednesday, 5pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — catch her Symphony Nova Scotia performance Thursday at 7:30. Her website.

Ethical Considerations for International Volunteers and Interns (Wednesday, 5:30pm, Room 1014, Rowe Building) — Rebecca Tiessen from the University of Ottawa will speak.

Dying with Dignity in Canada (Wednesday, 7pm, Room 105, Weldon Law Building) — Jocelyn Downie will speak.

Thursday

Atlantic Conference on Public Administration (Thursday, 9am, Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Halifax) — for 200 bucks you could hear Scott Brison speak. Info here.

Six Primrose (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — screening and discussion of Halifax director John Hillis’s film.

Saint Mary’s

Thursday

Lydia Patton

Fateful Decisions: Reckoning with the Climate and the Future (Thursday, 7pm, in the theatre named after a bank in the building named after a grocery store) — Lydia Patton of Virginia Tech will speak. From the listing:

Your friend asks you to accompany her on an expedition to climb Everest. A close friend proposes marriage, and you decide to have a child. After a recruiter visits your high school, you join the military. William James calls these ‘momentous choices,’ and we can call them ‘fateful decisions’.

A fateful decision affects all or most of your subsequent decisions. A fateful decision may constrain or open up your future options, make a new life possible or impossible, or enable or rule out your life’s achievements.

The current debate over what to do about the changing climate, about nuclear power, and about developing novel technologies, involve fateful decisions. How should citizens, governments, local political entities, and practical reasoners in general handle fateful decisions? Does Earth’s changing climate present a special case even among fateful decisions? How might public discussions of the ethical dimensions of fateful decisions help in making progress on questions of urgent public concern? How might an analysis in terms of ‘fateful decisions’ differ from one focused on ‘risk’?


In the harbour

05:30: Mignon, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
14:00: Gotland Carolina, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from Paulsboro, New Jersey
15:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
16:00: Mignon moves to Pier 31
16:00: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
18:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
21:00: Mignon sails for sea


Footnotes

I’m still busy with a project, but I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, New 95.7, at 2pm.


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Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. Six Primrose is important and powerful. The community food centre model is how we need to deal with food insecurity. The Dartmouth Community Food Centre is the only one in the Atlantic Provinces and this film provides a great overview of what they do and how it so quickly became an indispensable part of the North Dartmouth community. I highly recommend it.
    Six Primrose (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — screening and discussion of Halifax director John Hillis’s film.

  2. Since cavitation and crevice corrosion was mentioned I assume DRDC is probably exploring NAB use for propellers and/or determining the materials lifespan.

  3. Holy hell, a lot of those Hall of Fame photos fall into the “can’t unsee” category. It’s quite the gallery.

  4. “especially if it is combined with stopping the right turn on red? ”
    Who is going to enforce the “no right on red”? And how often?
    If it’s not going to be enforced, how many car drivers are going to stop on red? and how many are going to keep stopping on red?

  5. Really, a worker has to drive to the ramp to watch a ship pass under the bridge? Has the HHB not heard of cameras? I bet that the ships are using mast-mounted cameras to monitor clearances.

    1. I’ve never seen a camera mounted on a bridge mast to monitor clearances, and I’ve been under a lot of bridges. But it is curious that HHB wastes money making sure a ship clears the bridge, like Tim says what are they expecting to do if it doesn’t.
      Also, passing under the bridges isn’t just a free-for-all. An inbound ship’s pilot will call Halifax Traffic with the ship’s current air draft (her maximum height above the water) and Traffic will pass the information onto the Halifax Port Authority who will calculate the clearance using a computer program that measures among other things, state of tide, time of day, sunny or cloudy (hot metal expands, therefore sags), weight of expected traffic on the bridge. The Port will then confirm or deny a vessel clearance to the Narrows, all before the vessel comes around Georges Island. Usually a vessel is cleared to proceed but not always. I’ve seen two ships denied, one because their air draft was too much and another because they waited for another ship to clear the narrows and missed their window. In both cases, the ships had to perform some ballasting to bring their air draft down before being allowed to proceed.

  6. I agree about right on red.

    At least once a week the following happens to me: I’m waiting at an intersection for the light to go green so I can walk across. While the light is red in both directions someone in a car decides they will not bother stopping and just blow through the red while turning right, because Right On Red. Then the light turns green and their car is in the intersection threatening to hit all the pedestrians who are now walking.

    When this happens, the driver almost never stops to let pedestrians walk. Instead they accelerate, swerving around all the people, because they have to get through the intersection absolutely right now.

    This happens at Robie and Cunard a lot for some reason, when walking across Robie towards Windsor on the north side of the intersection.

  7. Tim
    re: your comment “Rich people are weird.”
    It`s not just the rich that are weird, that`s for sure.

  8. The other story at play here is the impact of the new Bus Priority Corridor on Gottingen Street. Because buses cant use this on ramp, Metro Transit is jamming 90 buses an hour (at peak) down Gottingen Street. This means a large number of buses are deadheading (traveling back to Dartmouth empty) and creating a mess on Gottingen. To create the bus corridor, they have eliminated all parking on the west side of Gottingen, and have jammed three lanes into a space that barely meets NATCO standards (in some cases it has less right of way than the minimum required).

    The effect is that now we have all forms of traffic moving at higher speeds from Buddy Daye to Portland Place (Metro Transit only quotes speeds from North to Uniacke). As well, with no car to protect you, the pedestrian environment has become more hostile. I have heard several unconfirmed instances of car/bus and pedestrian interactions: a pedestrian’s bag was hit by a bus at Gottingen and Cornwallis the other day (in front of the 244 restaurant) – he wasn’t hurt, but it scared the beejeepers out of him, and a pedestrian was hit by a car at the crosswalk in front of the Field Guide restaurant (again unhurt). Its only a matter of time . . . . .

    Metro Transit and HRM need to do everything they can to get all this bus traffic off Gottingen so that it can go back to being a community street, not a 1km freeway. They seem to think this corridor is going to solve all the other problems Metro Transit has with their bus system. A total overhaul is needed.

    So yes, this change may not be the best for pedestrians using the south side of the Bridge, but it will have a positive effect on another street that has more pedestrian traffic.

    1. That’s a fair point, your conclusion. As Tim B asked directly about the ramp crosswalk, that’s all I addressed above – it’s a very frustrating experience every time I cross the bridge on foot.

      I frequently take a bus from downtown Halifax to Dartmouth over the winter months, though, and the increased speeds on Gottingen with the bus priority corridor are obvious.

      Combining my earlier post with yours, my ideal end result would involve both speed reduction on Gottingen as well as an end to right-turns-on-red on the MacDonald Bridge on-ramp – a win-win for pedestrians in both areas.

      1. The number of people on the bus is significantly greater than the pedestrians at that crosswalk.
        Stop the right turn and traffic will be backed up even more on Barrington.

  9. I’ve addressed the MacDonald Bridge on-ramp crosswalk here before, specifically after the “Big Lift” mostly wrapped up, the pedestrian walkway was re-opened and drivers on the on-ramp were routinely shocked to be reminded that pedestrians used the bridge and a crosswalk with functional traffic signals was actually there for a reason.

    In my experience, an incredibly unsafe number of drivers on the ramp look only to their left for an opening in North Street traffic approaching the Bridge and fail to look to their right for pedestrians, even if they face a red light and the “walking man” symbol is lit for the crosswalk.

    It’s a dangerous spot, especially as a pedestrian coming from Dartmouth to Halifax, for two reasons: 1. right turns on red are permitted; and 2. the ramp lanes curl eastward to such a degree that vehicles can maintain their ramp speed straight onto the bridge.

    If I recall correctly, an earlier suggestion to allow bus traffic to avoid Gottingen and use Barrington to access the MacDonald Bridge was to make the on-ramp “curl” even more favourable for drivers to maintain speed, wherein buses would be able to enter the Bridge in the curb lane without poking into the non-curb lane. I’m glad to see that idea is seemingly no longer on the table. I can only imagine that such a further reduction in angle would allow drivers to maintain a speed of 60-70km/h from the ramp directly onto the bridge, crosswalk be damned.

    If the City is at all concerned with pedestrian safety in these circumstances (and I’ve no reason to believe they are), there are only two real solutions in my view: 1. make the ramp meet the Bridge at a full 90-degree angle, therein forcing ramp drivers to come to a complete stop; or 2. no longer allow right turns on red lights from the ramp to the Bridge. If they insist on buses using the ramp to access the Bridge, only #2 above will work.

    Anything besides these two options is, in my view, prioritizing car traffic over pedestrian safety. Which would be business as usual here.

    1. I remember placing a good sized dent in the side of a car with my steel toed boot as I tried to traverse that particular intersection. Good times…….

  10. Once again it’s all about traffic, somewhat about transit and not at all about the pedestrian.

    Option 1 was found “… to have an unacceptable impact to general traffic, and transit.”, so hey we can’t recommend that.

    Rather we’ll recommend Option 2 that “… is not expected to have a noticeable impact to general traffic.” but “… will have a notable negative impact on pedestrians”.

    So much for the IMP complete streets hierarchy that places pedestrians at the top and traffic at the bottom of the pyramid.

    It is simply inconsistent with the IMP for TSC / Council to accept Option 2. Here’s hoping they stick to the IMP principals and reject the preferred concept, i.e. Option 2.