Rain and resignation swept over Chebucto Road yesterday as residents braced for the start of the controversial road-widening project.
Construction on the reversing lane is set to start Wednesday and last for at least 10 weeks. Motorists can expect major delays as the road will be down to one lane in peak periods. HRM is advising drivers to take alternate routes.
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Demonstrations are planned for this week, including tree-top protests. Friday night saw 300 cyclists turn out for a protest ride along Chebucto Road. Police ticketed one man for blocking traffic.
Fran and Bernie O’Hearne have lived on the road for 10 years. The elderly couple are worried about parking issues during the construction and once the wider road is in place, but have accepted that they can’t fight city hall.
“We’ve done what we can,” Mrs. O’Hearne said yesterday. “I know other people are going to continue on, but …” she trailed off.
The couple didn’t know how much, if any, of their property they will lose.
“They haven’t offered us anything,” Mrs. O’Hearne said, apart from money to allow the city to “trespass” while the work is carried out.
“It’s a complete waste of money,” Mr. O’Hearne said. “They say $2.6 million, but it’ll go higher than that. Just leave it as it is — it’s perfect the way it is.”
Estimates for the project have ranged as high as $3.9 million. Other locals said the millions could be better spent.
Owen Brush, a NSCAD student, frequently bikes down Chebucto Road. He said there’s little in place to encourage people to take bikes or buses over cars.
“It’s really symbolic of Halifax’s policy on accommodating cars, but ignoring public transit or bicycles,” he said as he sat in the rain waiting for a friend.
The money going to the road widening would be better spent on improving the bus system and buying a few bike racks, he added.
“You can’t even lock up your bike or sit on a bench while you’re waiting for a bus.”