Why is the Peninsula South Complete Streets project happening?

    HRM’s goal is to provide complete streets that are safe, enjoyable and easy to use for everyone. This project is an outcome of numerous high-level HRM policies addressing climate change, urban forestry, land use planning, accessibility and, especially, integrated mobility. The Integrated Mobility Plan (IMP) was approved by Council in 2017 and sets the direction to create connected, healthy, affordable, and sustainable travel options, through projects like this one. HRM’s Active Transportation Priorities Plan (2014) identified the streets under consideration for changes through this project as candidate bicycle routes.

    How would the Peninsula South Complete Streets project make connections in the active transportation network?

    The addition of an all-ages-and-abilities (AAA) bikeway along the University Ave and Morris Street corridor would provide a key east-west link in the overall cycling network, enabling more people to get to their destinations by bicycle. In particular, it would enable connections between the Halifax Urban Greenway, Vernon-Seymour Local Street Bikeway, South Park Street protected bike lanes, Hollis Street protected bike lane, and the Lower Water Street protected bike lane. The addition of an AAA bikeway on Robie Street would connect University Avenue to Gorsebrook Junior High School, Gorsebrook Park, and Saint Mary’s University.

    What consultation has occurred with stakeholders and community members?

    Many stakeholder groups and experts have been involved in the process, from many different departments within HRM as well as community and institutions. A wide range of perspectives have been taken into consideration.

    Phase 1 public and stakeholder engagement took place October-November 2019. It included community workshops; pop-up engagement sessions; and an online questionnaire and interactive map. It focused on the existing conditions and current experience, as well as the desired future experience, of diverse street users. The What We Heard Report from phase one of the project is available on Shape Your City.

    How did feedback from Phase 1 public engagement influence the concepts you are presenting now?

    Participants during Phase 1 public engagement identified existing conflicts between street users along streets in the project area. When responding to questions about their desired future experience traveling through south end Halifax, participants identified key themes such as “Parking & Conflict Mitigation,” “Safety and Accessibility,” and “Parks, Trees & Placemaking.” These themes, along with specific information about accessibility and safety concerns, loading demands, among others, informed design of the concepts.

    Would this project improve accessibility?

    All the concepts include widened sidewalks. On University Avenue, where there are many people walking and rolling, some sidewalks would be twice as wide as they are today. Narrowed streets and intersections would shorten crossings for people walking and rolling and encourage people to drive slowly. New curb ramps and tactile surfaces would improve accessibility. For all concepts except one for Robie Street, people walking and rolling would be separated from people cycling.

     Accessible on-street parking would be maintained in all but one location. For University Avenue Concept 2C, where existing accessible parking spaces would be relocated, we would design the changes to ensure users can continue to safely access destinations served by those spaces.

    What factors were considered to evaluate the 8 top-ranking concepts?

    Creating complete streets is a complex practice of balancing many different priorities. Many different possibilities were considered throughout the design process. Various routes with various configurations of cycling facilities, intersections, traffic lanes, parking and open spaces were assessed based on the following criteria:

    • Pedestrian Movement and Safety
    • Bicycle Movement and Safety
    • Transit Service
    • Vehicular and Truck Traffic
    • Parking Supply
    • Loading Requirements
    • Trees and Greenspace
    • Fire and Emergency Services
    • Property Requirements

    Each criterion was weighted based on the Integrated Mobility Plan's complete street hierarchy and the project objectives. All concepts were given a score out of 5 for each criterion. A high score means the concept would provide a high level of service and/or minimal impacts. A lower score means the concept would provide a low level of service and/or have significant impacts. The concepts that ranked very low overall or had serious feasibility-related challenges were not developed further. The 8 top-ranking concepts are now the focus. 

    Scores for low-ranking concepts are available to review in the Shape Your City Document Library, along with the criteria and scores for all concepts that were evaluated.

    The ranking of concepts will inform a recommendation to Council regarding preferred concepts but is not the only factor. Public feedback on the concepts is also an important factor, among others.

    Do the complete street concepts call for the removal of trees?

    A detailed assessment of potential impacts to street trees for each of the complete street concepts has been undertaken by a professional arborist company with input from HRM’s Urban Forestry group. In support of urban forest preservation and renewal goals, the tree assessment informed the evaluation of the concepts and an understanding of mitigation measures that would be needed during construction.

    There is a wide range of potential impacts between the various concepts.  Most trees would be protected. Trees that would require removal are identified on the interactive map.

    How many trees could be removed to accommodate this work?

    The number of tree removals required varies between the concepts. Assuming one concept is implemented for each of the four segments (i.e., Morris Street, University Avenue, west of University Avenue, and Robie Street), and depending on the combination of concepts that are implemented, the approximate potential tree removals for the project ranges from 36 to 125 trees. For details on removals for each concept please visit the interactive map.

    Would trees be replaced?

    Further to the municipality’s Urban Forest Master Plan and Integrated Mobility Plan, staff would develop a replanting plan to replace trees removed as a result of this project. At a minimum, the municipality would aim to replace trees one-for-one in conditions that would enable the trees to thrive and reach maturity. Trees would be replaced on the same street or on nearby streets where space is available. There are opportunities on some streets within the study area to improve growing conditions for trees compared to existing conditions through investment in technologies such as soil cells.

    When would the trees be replaced? Would the trees be replaced by the same type of tree?

    Pending Council approval of one or more of the proposed concepts, trees would be replaced at the end of the construction phase of the proposed infrastructure to avoid conflict with construction activity.

    Trees would not necessarily be replaced with the same species. HRM would take the opportunity to diversify tree species in the area with consideration for increasing native species.

    Are there any concepts that do not call for the removal of trees?

    Concept 3B, local street bikeways on Cartaret Street and Oakland Road, would not require any tree removals.

    How do the concepts impact Halifax Transit?

    The Morris Street concept (1A) that proposes one-way eastbound traffic would require changes to transit service, such as moving routes and stops from University Ave and Morris Street to parallel streets like South Street and Spring Garden Road. This could mean a transit passenger would go to a parallel street to reach their stop, or they might use a different route.

    Any changes to Transit service would be planned as part of Halifax Transit’s next 5-year planning process, which will start in 2023.

    An upcoming planning project will consider transit priority on Robie Street. Public and stakeholder feedback on the Peninsula South Complete Street concepts for Robie Street will be incorporated as part of that project.

    Why is there only one concept for Morris Street?

    Three concepts for Morris Street were developed and evaluated. Two of the three concepts were dropped from further consideration due to feasibility issues and/or the severity of impacts to various street functions, including the urban forest. Two concepts on alternate, parallel streets were also developed and evaluated, but these were dropped from further consideration as they scored low relative to the top-ranking concept and would not meet the project’s objective to achieve an all-ages-and-abilities (AAA) east-west cycling connection.

    Scores for low-ranking concepts are available in the Shape Your City Document Library to review, along with the criteria and scores for all concepts that were evaluated.

    How would one-way traffic on Morris Street affect traffic on nearby streets?

    Morris Street Concept 1A proposes to convert the street to one-way eastbound traffic from South Park Street to Lower Water Street. Based on current traffic volumes, modeling suggests there is sufficient capacity along alternate routes in the area to allow for this conversion. The modeling considered the conversion in combination with the daytime transit-only pilot project on Spring Garden Road. With both changes in place, the surrounding road network was still shown to operate at or above target levels of service for traffic for intersections within the Regional Centre.

    How would one-way traffic on Morris Street affect emergency vehicles?

    Morris Street Concept 1A proposes to convert the street to one-way eastbound traffic. The project team consulted with Halifax Fire and Emergency (HRFE) and Nova Scotia Emergency Health Services (EHS) staff about the conversion. Both agencies concluded the change would be manageable and would not significantly impact their level of service. One-way westbound flow of traffic was also considered, but HRFE concluded this would not be a viable option as Morris Street eastbound is an important fire route from University Avenue Fire Station #2 to downtown Halifax.

    How would one-way traffic on Morris Street affect the daytime truck route?

    Morris Street is currently a daytime truck route. If Morris Street is converted to one-way eastbound traffic, truck traffic would shift to Barrington and Inglis streets, which are also designated truck routes.

    How would closed intersections on University Avenue affect traffic?

    The University Avenue concept that includes a two-way bikeway in the median (Concept 2B) proposes to close the median to vehicle access at minor intersections west of Robie Street (i.e., Edward Street, Henry Street, Seymour Street). This would allow continuous flow of the two-way bikeway through these intersections while minimizing conflicts between people cycling and people in cars. As a result, the routes people drive to access local destinations would change, and could be less direct than they are today, resulting in longer trips. The median closures would be designed to be passable by emergency vehicles.

    Was a cycling connection from University Avenue through Dalhousie’s Studley Campus to the Halifax Urban Greenway considered?

    Yes, two routes through the Studley campus were evaluated to achieve the AAA cycling connection from the western end of University Avenue to the planned extension of the Halifax Urban Greenway along Oxford Street. Both routes were dropped from further consideration as they ranked lowest relative to the other routes and both had potential to conflict with future Dalhousie redevelopment projects.

    Do the concepts call for the removal of on-street parking?

    There is a wide range of potential impacts between the various concepts. Some concepts would require removal of most parking spaces, while others would require few removals.

    How many parking spots would be removed?

    Details on proposed number of parking removals for each concept are available in the Shape Your City Document Library.

    How would loading be accommodated?

    Accommodations for loading areas would be prioritized at key destinations, including the Saint Mary’s Elementary School, the QEII Health Sciences Centre, the IWK Health Centre, the Nova Scotia Archives, and the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium. Specific parking and loading areas are identified on the interactive map. Details on proposed number of parking removals for each concept are available in the Shape Your City Document Library.

    When will the proposed concepts be constructed?

    Pending Council approval of recommended concepts, following Phase 2 public engagement, the preferred concepts would proceed to preliminary and then detailed design before tendering for construction. A phased approach to construction would be targeted to begin in the next 2 to 5 years.