Long awaited Hanwell-TCH interchange still pending
February 1, 2003
FREDERICTON, N.B. - Members of the Hanwell Road Action Committee are still waiting patiently for the first move to be made in their pursuit for a ramped interchange at the Trans-Canada Highway and Han...
FREDERICTON, N.B. – Members of the Hanwell Road Action Committee are still waiting patiently for the first move to be made in their pursuit for a ramped interchange at the Trans-Canada Highway and Hanwell Road.
York MLA, Don Kinney, says he is remaining optimistic about the ramp proposal.
“We have gained a lot of ground over the last year,” says Kinney, “things have been much more positive this past year than they have in the last two and half years.”
Although it won’t happen overnight, Kinney is confident that something will be done to make Hanwell a safer thoroughfare.
“It has been on the top of my priority list since I was elected back in 1999,” he says, “and it will remain at the top of my list until it’s done.”
Hanwell Road businessman, and co-chair of the Hanwell Road Action Committee, Ed Cochrane, has been lobbying for ramps onto the new Trans-Canada Highway for three years now.
“It’s something that quite simply should have been here in the first place when the highway was built,” says Cochrane. “It is like trying to buy a car without a steering wheel.”
Hanwell Road, considered to be a secondary road, transports about 18,000 vehicles each day, says Cochrane, which surpasses the usual limit on a two-lane highway.
As well, he points out there is a significant business park off the highway which lands amidst a residential area, and truckers have to travel down a winding road through a very congested area which poses safety concerns.
“We have phenomenal amounts of transport and fuel truck traffic and we’re trying to encourage the government to give us direct access to the highway so we can get this traffic off the road and out of the city wherever possible,” says Cochrane.
Raymond Coughlan, president of trucking firm R.S. Coughlan, has been part of the Action Committee since the beginning and says that life would be easier for residents, commuters and truckers if the ramps were installed.
“It seems every day that goes by without incident, is another day that thank goodness nothing has happened,” says Coughlan. “There is a very large safety concern, it is always a situation where someday something might happen, we hope it doesn’t, but the potential is there. If we can get the ramps in place then we can alleviate these concerns and lessen that potential.”
As it stands there are only three different ways to get into the city, says Coughlan, the New Maryland exit is roughly two miles from Hanwell business park and there are high speed connectors at either end of the city but only on the east bound lanes. This means, he continues, that trucks must drive through the city and go seven or eight kilometres out of their way to get to and from the highway.
“It is a financial and efficiency issue as well, and as far as I’m concerned the city of Fredericton isn’t being well represented either,” Coughlan says, “but the paramount concern for all of us is definitely safety.”
Ralph Boyd, president of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, says in a letter to the Daily Gleaner, the less contact commercial vehicles have with the motoring public the safer it is for everyone.
“The current system is not only unsafe but a very roundabout way to send our drivers. The construction of a safe and efficient interchange at the Hanwell Road is a win-win situation for all of those involved,” says Boyd.
Currently, the Action Committee and the residents of Hanwell Road are eagerly awaiting a report from a local engineering firm that has been commissioned to do a logistical and feasibility study on the proposal, but expect to have some answers soon.
Les Hull, mayor of Fredericton, says as far as the Hanwell Road interchange goes, he is not concerned.
“We have written a letter to the department of transportation asking for input about the Hanwell Road itself, because it is badly in need of upgrading and as part of the provincial highway system, we would maintain it and co-operate with the provincial department,” says Hull.
However the interchange lies an eighth of a mile outside the city boundaries which doesn’t make it a priority for Hull and his staff at all.
“The interchange is outside city limits, and because there is already an interchange coming into the city, we feel that one at Hanwell Road would not be of any interest to the city of Fredericton, so what the province does is their business, but for the city, it just isn’t a priority,” he says.
Hull says it would be costly to construct a ramp infrastructure and goes on to say that it wouldn’t have a great deal of benefit to the city.
“Our tourism has increased from 13,000 visitors in 2001 to 24,000 visitors in 2002,” says Hull, “so the information centres at either end of the city are doing a tremendous job in directing people into the city, so I’m not worried.”
Even though the Hanwell Road ramp proposal doesn’t land on the city’s priority list, it remains high on the lists of the Action Committee and the businesses of Hanwell Road, who are confident that the report will show positive results support from all sides.
“I can’t tell you the ramps are going to be built tomorrow but I’m confident the report is going to show the need for ramps, and when that happens we will take it from there and get them to move forward with the plan,” says MLA Kinney.