Traffic snarl worsens on Mackay Highway

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SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Traffic on the Mackay has increased by at least 20 per cent in the last 10 years, even though the Kennebecasis Valley hasn’t grown nearly that much.

Many believe the region’s record employment levels are putting a lot more commuters on the road.

If you’re travelling west on the Mackay at any time between 7:40 and 8:20 a.m., you’re bound to catch up with some bumper-to-bumper driving by the time you get to the Rothesay-Airport Arterial interchange.

“We always slow right down there, sometimes to a standstill,” says Claudette Clark, who commutes to Saint John Regional Hospital from Hampton.

Suppertime traffic coming the other way can be nearly as bad, said Senior Const. Evan Scott, who heads the Rothesay Regional Police Department’s traffic division.

“I’ve had times responding to motor vehicle accidents on the highway when both lanes were just gridlocked. If you’re heading eastbound toward the Dolan Road at supper hour, the only place for you to drive is the shoulder. You can’t drive anywhere else.”

Clark says the problem has become a lot worse since the westbound portion of the interchange was expanded last summer to give better access to large numbers of cars coming from the Wells area. But Const. Scott says he has seen the load on the Mackay building a lot longer than that, and many commuters suggest it is the increase in employment in the area that creates such gridlock.

And so has the provincial Department of Transportation.

Traffic measured on the Mackay near the Rothesay-Saint John boundary has increased by more than 21 per cent in nine years, says Brian McEwing, the provincial department’s director of planning and land management. It grew from an average of 26,300 vehicles per day in 1992 to 31,960 in 2001, the most recent year with traffic figures.

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