Roundabouts were approved in principle by council yesterday and may replace four signal intersections in the HRM.

It doesn’t mean roundabouts are a go for construction, just another tool in the box for planners.

Several councillors expressed concern about pedestrian safety but it was a unanimous vote.

Tanya Davis, traffic services supervisor, told council motorists are half as likely to get into an accident in a roundabout as opposed to an intersection with signals.

“We have to think of roundabouts as improvements to the city,” she said, adding roundabouts have significant environmental and aesthetic benefits.

There are no lights to guide pedestrians to cross at a roundabout, but pedestrians are less likely to get hit because they’re crossing fewer lanes of traffic.

The province is fully behind roundabouts and it is building 16 this year. Besides the well-travelled Armdale roundabout, two others will be built within the HRM this year: At Larry Uteck Boulevard and Starboard Drive; and at Margeson Drive and Sackville Drive.

Ken Reashor, with the city’s transportation and public works department, said the earliest any of these intersections could be converted would be next year because of its budget.

But the lights at the Devonshire Avenue intersection, in Coun. Jerry Blumenthal’s district, are in the greatest need of repair.

“We’re Band-Aiding it,” Reashor said.

The wiring is beyond its lifespan and the cost of replacing the lights and improving the pedestrian crossing would be close to the cost of installing a roundabout.

Blumenthal said a roundabout would just get congested with commuters.

“When things aren’t broken, why fix it?” Blumenthal said. “I can see the concept but I can’t see it in the north end.”

Intersections up for consideration
• Devonshire Ave./Duffus Street/Novalea Drive: Built in 1966; current distance for pedestrians: 20 metres; if converted, two of five metres

• North Park/Cogswell Street/Trollope Street/Ahern Ave./Rainnie Drive: Built in 1949; current distance for pedestrians: 20 metres; if converted, eight metres

• Cunard Street/North Park/Agricola Street: Built in 1952; current distance for pedestrians: 14 metres; if converted, four metres

• Robie Street/Cogswell Street/Bell Road/Quinpool Road: Built in 1949; current distance for pedestrians: 24 metres; if converted, eight metres

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