A roundabout for the Bedford Highway?

Birch Cove plans call for roundabout, two residential towers, new bridge

Plans for development of Birch Cove call for a new roundabout on the Bedford Highway, two 10- to 12-storey residential buildings on the waterfront and a new bridge over the CN tracks.

Exact details of the plans won’t be made public until Monday night, but Terry Drisdelle, a planner of with the Waterfront Development Corporation, revealed the broad outlines of the proposed development to me last Friday. The plan to be presented Monday is an amalgamation of the “best ideas” of three earlier working plans, says Drisdelle.

Both the roundabout and the waterfront towers will likely prove controversial.

The proposed roundabout would replace the present intersection of Kearney Lake Road and the Bedford Highway, one of the busiest roadways in Nova Scotia. Roundabouts are very common in Europe, and are gaining acceptance with North American traffic engineers because they slow traffic without stopping it, and send merging cars in the same direction, as opposed to against each other, as in traditional signaled intersections. Moreover, says Drisdelle, a roundabout will give motorists more “breaking out” points to access the new Birch Cove lands.

Still, partly due to a history of problems at the Armdale Rotary/Roundabout, the Nova Scotian public has not generally supported new roundabouts. For example, a proposal to simplify the north end intersection of Duffus Street, Novalea Drive and Devonshire Avenue was met with scorn by councillor Jerry Blumenthal.

Drisdelle says the towers, occupying the present site of Chinatown restaurant, are the trade-off that makes the Birch Cove plan possible: United Gulf Developments, which owns the site, will agree to pay for infrastructure costs like the new bridge, and to provide large areas of public amenities including a waterfront park, in return for increased density allowances.

The proposed bridge roadway will leave the Bedford Highway just south of the Birch Cove store, and head over the tracks to access the Chinatown property. Some of the working plans call for placing the tracks in a tunnel, but it’s unclear if that proposal made it into the final plans.

“Residents in the area want Birch Cove to become a destination, a neighbourhood,” explains Drisdelle of the plans. The plans will be made public Monday, 7pm, at St. Peter’s Anglican Church. For more information, see tinyurl.BirchCove.

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