The City of Nelson plans to begin construction on the second phase of its Stores to Shores project in 2017. This would see the reconstruction of Hall St. from Lake St. to the waterfront.
At its December 6 meeting, city council heard a presentation from Rob Fershau and Avi Thiessen of WSP (part of MMM consulting) who presented a series of preliminary drawings and plans that are attached below. The city’s Colin Innes says there will be detailed drawings available for public comment in February.
One of the most discussed issues at the meeting was the intersection at Lakeside Drive and Hall St. Fershau said two things make this intersection a challenging traffic engineering problem: the proximity of the CPR tracks and the fact that the Prestige parking lot entry is part of the intersection.
Fershaw presented two options: a three-way stop and a roundabout. He told council that an early decision on that choice would help the design process.
He listed the advantages and disadvantages of each, and recommended the three-way stop but with the entrance to the Prestige parking lot moved east up Lakeside Drive out of the intersection. He said the 3-say stop would eliminate the confusion of the parking lot entry, be easier for pedestrians, preserve parking, accommodate more vehicle sizes and be cheaper than a roundabout.
He said that although a roundabout would have some advantages — roundabouts maintain continuous traffic flow in all directions and reduce collisions — the disadvantages are significant. It would take up more space, decrease pedestrian and cyclist experience, reduce parking, and would be more expensive.
Council decided to vote on this question immediately, and voted in favour of the three-way, with Councillors Bob Adams and Robin Cherbo opposed.
Utilities: flood control needed
Running under the lower end of Hall St. and its intersections is a storm sewer, a water main and a sanitary sewer.
Like last year’s work on the upper section of Hall, much of the work on the lower section will involve sewer and water system upgrades that the city would have had to do anyway, meaning that about half the cost of the project will be taken from the existing sewer and water budgets and is not new money.
The Hall and Front intersection is infamous for acting as a catchbasin during severe rainstorms, sometimes causing serious flooding.
Some advanced upgrades to the storm sewers are planned to avoid this, and would involve less underground infrastructure, utilizing instead an above-ground bioswale, a system that moves water away from the intersection, but which would result in reduced parking. This trade-off is one of the decisions council will eventually have to make.
The draft plan also envisions a revamping of the park beside the Prestige parking lot, including the moved entrance-exit described above, although Fershau said that as they still had to have discussions with the Prestige about the plan.
He said the idea is to create an urban park with a tree canopy.
The gazebo would stay where it is, with an expanded lawn area, custom lighting, parking changes, landscaping, steps to the waterfront, a waterfront walkway, and a wharf.
Currently in the area between Lake Street and the waterfront (including a block of Lakeside Drive west of the intersection) there are 116 parking spaces, 51 of them private and 65 public.
The three way stop option for the Lakeside and Hall intersection would see a loss of 28 parking spaces, whereas the roundabout option would have lost 40.
However, the plan suggests changes that could increase parking and mitigate those losses: formalize laneway parking along the tracks west of Hall St, and introduce angled parking on Lake St. and on Lakeside Drive, and eliminating the proposed bioswale.
According to Innes, the second phase of the Hall Street project will cost $6.3 million. The city will fund about a third of this from its sewer and water budget, and the remainder would come from a grant from the federal government’s Build Canada fund that has been applied for but not yet approved.
If the city is unsuccessful in getting that grant, the project may be delayed. But otherwise, construction is expected to begin in 2017.