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Robie & Quinpool

Robie & Quinpool Won’t See A Roundabout Anytime Soon


The HRM may have installed two roundabouts within the last two years, but the Willow Tree intersection won’t be getting the same treatment anytime soon.

“We’ve made improvements to signal timings, the wiring and infrastructure, but in the short term that’s all we’re planning at this point,” says Taso Koutroulakis, manager of Traffic Management with the HRM.

The Willow Tree is the intersection where Robie Street, Bell Road, Quinpool Road and Cogswell Street meet. Composed of five lanes of traffic and four crosswalk lanes, it has been met with frustration and concern from drivers and pedestrians.

“No matter what light you’re at, you’re going to be stuck there for ages,” says Halifax resident Cassandra Lilley. “You also run into the trouble of drivers being fed up with being there for so long, they don’t pay attention to when the lights change; I’ve come close to getting hit on numerous occasions.”

Kim Hart Macneill, who has driven, cycled and walked through the intersection, is also concerned with timing and safety. As a driver, she agrees the lights take too long to change and as a pedestrian, she finds the walk signal doesn’t last long enough.

“The moment you get the walk signal, it’s there for a few seconds and then switches over to the countdown,” says Hart Macneill. “I walk at a good pace and I can’t get through any of the large crosswalks before the countdown finishes … if you have any mobility impediments, you just won’t have time.”

Other issues that Hart Macneill and Lilley note are poorly cleared snowbanks and pedestrians, who are tired with waiting, crossing when the walk sign isn’t showing.

As per municipality policy, intersections are reviewed every two years. Koutroulakis admits the Willow Tree intersection is complicated, but nothing has come to his attention that would suggests it needs to change.

“In the past there’s been concerns about pedestrians still not having enough time to cross the street, but we’ve gone through an exercise recently where we increased the walking times at all of our intersections,” he says. Based on the review, the time has been changed to accommodate a walking speed of 1.2 meters per second instead of the previous one metre per second.

HRM intersections only receive major upgrades, like the roundabouts that were installed at Cogswell and North Park, when their “current configuration” poses a safety risk or the intersection reaches an end of life stage. This stage occurs when the infrastructure, wiring, signals and other components start to fail. The site is evaluated and suggestions are made.

“Even if we did an analysis and found a roundabout is a good idea, they are quite expensive,” says Koutroulakis. “We would consider an alternative, not necessarily a roundabout, but an alternative.”

Until any major changes are made to the Willow Tree, Hart Macneill would like to see both pedestrians and drivers be a bit more careful.

“Everybody needs to devote a little more time to how they are moving across the road,” she says.

(Ed note: See update below)

About Katie Ingram

Katie Ingram is a Halifax-based, freelance journalist. Along with Haligonia, her work has been featured in a number of publications including Halifax Magazine, Atlantic Books Today, the South Shore Breaker, The Coast, J-Source, Dakai Maritimes, Quill and Quire, the Queens County Advance, the Halifax Media Co-op and on CBC Radio.


The views and opinions expressed in this content are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of haligonia.ca.

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  1. First cost is the wrong way to compare projects. It would be like buying a car without knowing the fuel economy or safety of the thing, just its price to buy.
    Present Value Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) is the best way to compare two or more choices. When comparing modern roundabouts to signals for a 20-year life cycle (the standard period), modern roundabouts usually cost less. Costs to compare include: first cost (design/land/construction), operation and maintenance (electricity, re-striping, upgrades, etc.), crash reduction (what’s your/your family’s safety worth?), daily delay (what’s your time worth?), daily fuel consumption (spend much on gas?), point source pollution (generated by stopped vehicles = health cost), area insurance rates (this costs more where it is less safe to drive). Each of these things, and others, can be estimated for any two choices and everyone near or using the project area will pay some portion of all of these costs (and also gain benefits).

  2. If this becomes a reality down the road hopefully they do not use the same roundabout designers that did the roundabout at Cogswell & North Park. That roundabout seems like a brain fart of a design.

    Everyone is confused going from two lanes to one from Cogswell coming from Gottingen direction. They made this one lane but the other side of the roundabout is two lane. I’ve seen a number of near miss accidents because of this.

    Also the 90 degree angle to get to Rainnie is horrible.

    For them to design a complex roundabout for the Willow Tree they better bring in a better team to design it.

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