Bayers Road widening: Chebucto Road meeting

Residents irate at lack of details

I witnessed a pretty classic government-citizen disconnect last night at the public input meeting for the Highway 102-Bayers Road design study.

The meeting was led by a collection of consultants and the lone city staffer, Dave McCusker, who were focused on the planning aspects of designing a highway corridor. In their minds, they're looking at the long-range transportation needs of the entire community. They have sophisticated computer programs that allow them to juggle all sorts of population and employment trends, including what bureaucrats would consider fairly aggressive transit policies adopted by city council (all of which are themselves outlined in the regional plan) and come up with some pretty sophisticated modelling of what that all means for a specific highway corridor-- in this case the 102 corridor, which starts as a the city street we all call Bayers Road, at Windsor Street, and stretches all the way up the BiHi, through Bedford and Fall River, and up to the intersection with Highway 118 near the airport.

A big part of their presentation included the placement of the proposed Burnside-Sackville connector highway, a mythical Highway 113 and various onramps and offramps along the BiHi. Their entire presentation was wrapped in planning terms and bureaucratic speak. It took me an entire career in municipal reporting to learn the logic behind all this stuff, but the community members for the most part didn't have a clue what was being discussed.

What the community wanted was specifics on the ten blocks or so of the road that runs between their houses-- when would Bayers Road be widened? How much off my yard will you take? Will it be possible for the kids to walk across the street to school? What is this going to do to my property values? Should I plant a garden?

The residents are extremely frustrated, and rightly so. McCusker rightly pointed out that the timing for widening the road is a political decision, not in his hands---it wouldn't likely happen within the next five years, but on the other hand it would likely happen within the planning "horizon," which extends all the way out to the year 2036. In the meanwhile, residents have property they can't sell, uncertainty about what kind of investments to make in their houses, lives on hold.

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