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The exterior of Saint John City Hall is pictured in this file photo. Image: staff photo

City changing how it prioritizes new sidewalks, crosswalks

By Brad Perry Apr 1, 2024 | 5:59 AM

Sidewalks and crosswalks are expensive pieces of infrastructure for municipalities to install and maintain.

That is part of the reason why Saint John wants to improve decision-making when it comes to future sidewalks and crosswalks.

“We felt as staff that we needed a fundamental shift in terms of how we decide, how we prioritize when future sidewalks and crosswalks should be installed within our community,” Tim O’Reilly, the city’s public works director, told the city’s public safety committee.

O’Reilly said requests from the public have traditionally been the main source of decisions around new sidewalks and crosswalks.

Now, thanks to federal funding for a pair of studies, the city is moving toward more of a data-based risk management approach, he said.

“The speed and volume of a particular street, the location where pedestrian usage could be greater, and pass accident data,” said O’Reilly.

The public works director noted that sidewalks can cost $2,000 a metre to install while crosswalks can cost upwards of $100,000.

On top of that, there is the additional cost of maintenance. The city currently has 400 kilometres of sidewalks and 600 crosswalks.

O’Reilly said city staff are working to develop a “top 50” list of both sidewalk and crosswalk priority projects throughout the city.

Some of the crosswalk projects of interest recommended as part of the study include:

  • Installing a signalized crosswalk on Chesley Drive, east of the Reversing Falls Bridge (planned for 2024)
  • Adding a signalized crosswalk on Westmorland Road at Ellerdale Street (planned for 2024)
  • Upgrading several crosswalks to incorporate Accessible Pedestrian Systems for low-vision pedestrians
  • Two signalized crosswalks on Fairville Boulevard at Linton Street and Kierstead Road
  • Improvements to the existing crosswalks at the Lansdowne/Metcalf signalized intersection
  • Signalizing the King Street crosswalk at Prince William Street
  • Signalizing the existing marked crosswalk on Loch Lomond Road at Crescent Avenue
  • Improving the crosswalks at Simms Corner, depending on the future timing of the reconstruction of the intersection

O’Reilly said some of the smaller projects could be funded through the operating budget while larger ones could be recommended to the city’s 10-year capital plan.