Common questions about Cogswell
The tender for construction was originally expected to be issued in April 2019. Why the delay?
Given the scope of this unprecedented multi-year project, significant due diligence must be completed prior to issuing a tender for construction. An extensive review process by multiple municipal departments is required, as well as engagement with external partners and agencies such as water, power and telecommunications utilities.
This significant effort, up front, will help ensure the project proceeds as smoothly as possible once underway. The tender is expected to be released the end of this fiscal year, March 31, 2020. Further details regarding timing and specifics of the construction efforts can only be determined after the tender is awarded, following discussions with the selected contractor.
To mitigate traffic impacts for the duration of the project, staff have initiated a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan to help reduce the number of vehicle trips through the construction site by promoting other travel options and providing information to assist everyone who will be affected by the traffic disruptions.
What is Traffic Demand Management and why is it important to the Cogswell District project?
The Cogswell District Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan will be directly inspired by the principles and actions included in the municipality’s Integrated Mobility Plan (IMP), which aims to shift the focus from eliminating congestion to managing the demand on the road network. One of IMP's objectives is to reduce demand on the road network by supporting a range of convenient and reliable transportation modes and flexible work times and locations. Increasing priority to non-auto modes (transit, walking, cycling) is essential to meeting the region’s non-auto mode share targets and improving the sustainability of the transportation system. The IMP also provides direction to promote and explain alternative transportation options to single-occupancy vehicle trips, including active transportation, transit and ridesharing.
The TDM plan for the Cogswell District project will establish policies, practices, and tools that the municipality can use to manage travel demand during the construction period. Therefore, this project provides a huge opportunity to encourage positive changes in travel behaviors and work towards meeting the IMP’s mode share targets. It is expected the TDM plan will also draw from the many TDM initiatives and organizations that are currently in place here in the municipality. Most notable is the SmartTrip program, which is a municipality-led initiative that aims to encourage commuters to explore sustainable commuting options and consider more flexible work arrangements.
The main objectives of the TDM plan include:
- establishing a detailed understanding of the current and anticipated travel behavior during construction associated with the redevelopment of the Cogswell District; and
- helping to minimize and alleviate the transportation impact to local businesses, employers, residents and commuters by promoting other travel options and providing information to assist everyone who will be affected by the traffic disruptions during the construction phases of the project.
What is the Cogswell Interchange (site of the new Cogswell District)?
The Cogswell Interchange is a piece of road infrastructure in downtown Halifax that was built as part of the Harbour Drive Transportation Plan. The plan was abruptly cancelled in 1971, leaving the interchange as an orphaned piece of an unfinished expressway. The interchange sees approximately 55,000 vehicle-trips a day and operates at 55-70 per cent of its potential capacity.
How long will the entire redevelopment project take?
Barring any unforeseen substantial delays, street construction will be finished by 2022. Development of newly created lots will not be fully realized until several years after street infrastructure construction has concluded.
I travel through downtown Halifax every day. Will this project cause major disruptions?
Dismantling the Cogswell Interchange and building new infrastructure will temporarily disturb one of the key entrances to downtown Halifax. The municipality hired a traffic consultant to ensure traffic detours through the site are simple, clear and orderly. Traffic management and timely communication of disruptions during the construction phases will be essential to the success of the project. The municipality will share information on delays or changes to detours through the construction zone with the public as soon as they become available.
How much will the Cogswell Redevelopment Project cost taxpayers?
This project has the potential to be self-funded in the long term once construction is over and the redevelopment of the area is completed. The sale of newly available land and the subsequent property taxes will off-set the front-end investment and generate long-term recurring revenue for the city.
The initial estimate for the cost of the redevelopment was $65 million. The work by the prime design consultant will confirm the actual costs once construction is closer to commencing. The 2017/18 capital budget includes reserve funding for the next four years to cover front-end expenses.
Who owns and maintains the Cogswell Interchange?
The land is owned and maintained by the municipality with cost sharing from the Province of Nova Scotia for two of the existing structures.
What is the Cogswell Lands Plan?
The Cogswell Lands Plan is a redevelopment strategy produced by Ekistics Planning and Design that balances municipal engineering, urban design, active transportation and economic objectives into a conceptual renewal of the Cogswell Interchange. The plan references a range of historic studies and takes guidance from approved municipal policies found in the Regional Plan, Downtown Municipal Planning Strategy and municipal Economic Strategy. This report was further informed through a stakeholder and public engagement program led by the Strategic Urban Partnership (Cogswell Shake Up). The complete plan was approved by Regional Council along with staff’s recommended option in 2014.
The Cogswell Lands Plan and supporting research demonstrate how the areas around the interchange could be reconnected to the downtown. This includes Gottingen Street, Brunswick Street, Halifax Common, the naval dockyard, Halifax waterfront, Historic Properties, downtown Halifax and Citadel Hill. Detailed design plans will build on Cogswell Lands Plan to specifically determine how urban design elements, improved multi-modal transportation networks, new public spaces and the reduction of car-oriented infrastructure can help increase downtown livability and vibrancy.
Who will be conducting the work at the Cogswell site?
John Spinelli started as project director of the Cogswell Redevelopment Project in September 2015. Donna Davis joined the team as project manager in January 2017. The office will also be staffed with outside consultants and supported by municipal staff.
In September 2016, Regional Council awarded the contract for the prime design consultant to WSP/MMM Group. This major project milestone establishes a highly-skilled and experienced consultant team that will support delivery of the detailed design components. Early in the design phase, CBCL was hired as the traffic engineering consultant.
Is the existing Cogswell Interchange safe to use?
Yes. The condition of all municipal road infrastructure is monitored on a regular basis.
If it’s safe, why don’t we keep the interchange?
The interchange doesn’t enhance livability in the regional centre. The structure is over-built and will eventually require substantial investments. The interchange is approximately 50 years old; structures of this type typically have an average lifespan of 75 years. Redevelopment is the best option to accommodate traffic movement, enhance community connectivity and release land for development that will strengthen the population base and increase economic activity in the downtown core.
Will vehicles be able to use the interchange during construction?
Yes. One of the most important deliverables during the design phase will be for the prime design consultant and the traffic engineering consultant to compile a construction staging plan that will, to the fullest extent possible, retain current vehicle routes throughout the demolition and construction phases.
How will redevelopment affect neighbouring landowners and communities?
The Cogswell District redevelopment team continues to meet with a wide group of external stakeholders to discuss the project and help minimize the impact during the demolition and construction period. There is significant goodwill towards the concept of redevelopment and it is important these groups continue to be engaged to ensure their concerns are understood by the design team.
How will the project be managed to help prevent cost and time overruns?
The municipality has hired a project director with experience successfully delivering projects of a similar scope and complexity. This role will improve oversight, accountability, pre-planning and risk management. Additionally, key consultants have been retained to ensure cost and performance concerns are monitored and addressed.
What is the anticipated use for the land that will become available as a result of the Cogswell Redevelopment Project?
In addition to the newly created street network, active transportation paths and parks and open spaces, it’s anticipated that new development parcels would include primarily residential uses with other uses included to support residents of the area and generate destination-type activities for those outside the area. Any future developments are subject to the municipal planning application process, including public engagement and Regional Council approval. Given the significant timeline of this project, future market demands will have an impact on land usages.
Is a district energy plan part of the Cogswell Redevelopment Project?
District energy systems produce steam, hot water, warm water or chilled water at a central plant, which is then piped underground to individual buildings for space heating, domestic hot water heating and air conditioning. Those buildings served by a district energy system can eliminate or reduce the need for their own boilers, furnaces, chillers or air conditioners, as the system can do that work for them. The setup provides valuable benefits, including improved energy efficiency and environmental protection.
District energy appears to be a natural extension of the Cogswell Redevelopment Project. Project staff and Halifax Water are actively engaging in the development of a plan to utilize waste heat from the sewage treatment plan as a potential district energy source for the buildings to be developed on the Cogswell Interchange and beyond.
I travel through downtown Halifax every day. Won’t this project cause major disruptions?
There’s no question that dismantling the Cogswell Interchange and building new infrastructure will temporarily disturb one of the key entrances into the downtown core. However, the benefits of this project far outweigh these temporary disruptions. To mitigate the impact on residents, local businesses and other stakeholders, the municipality hired a Traffic Consultant (CBCL) early in the design process to ensure traffic detours through the site are as simple, clear and orderly as possible. Traffic management and timely communication of disruptions during the construction phases will be paramount to the success of the project. The municipality will utilize a wide variety of communication tools to ensure this information is available to the public in a timely manner.
Do you need a re-routing plan for trucks during construction?
The Cogswell team has worked with its designers and consultants to coordinate a three-stage buildout for the project that maintains an effective path through the Cogswell corridor at all times during construction. These stages will allow for two lanes north and two lanes south along Barrington/Upper Water streets and two east/westbound lanes through the current Cogswell Street connection. These roads will be available to provide vehicle and heavy truck access and connectivity through the Cogswell corridor throughout the entire project.
Will the Cogswell project get rid of heavy trucks in our downtown?
Trucks will continue to travel throughout the Cogswell District as it is a main connecting artery to the Port of Halifax. The southern port terminal is a major economic contributor to Halifax and the Cogswell project must accommodate this traffic now and in the future.
Traffic specialty consultants were engaged throughout the planning process to ensure that while trucks remained on these roads, their speed and overall impact to the neighborhoods was reduced to the greatest extent possible. Roundabouts create a prominent gateway while slowing traffic entering the downtown, converting Barrington Street from an arterial thoroughfare to an urban street. Large trucks are accommodated while maintaining neighbourhood friendly speeds. While the street network has been designed to accommodate current truck volumes to the Port of Halifax, is not intended to facilitate volume growth for heavy transports.
How will redevelopment improve connectivity between existing communities and infrastructure such as the Halifax waterfront?
Redevelopment of the Cogswell area will re-establish the connection between downtown Halifax, the Halifax waterfront and the surrounding neighbourhoods that was lost when the interchange was constructed.
A few examples of this potential reconnection include:
- Extending the existing Barrington Street Active Transportation Greenway to connect the boardwalks around the casino and along the waterfront
- A new at grade Cogswell street to intersect Upper Water Street and extend to the waterfront between Purdy’s Towers and the casino parking lot providing direct connectivity between the Waterfront boardwalk and the Halifax Commons.
- Connections to and from Granville Mall to take advantage of the strong existing waterfront connection between the Marriot hotel and Historic Properties
- New park and plaza spaces between Barrington and North Park streets enhance connectivity between Cogswell District and the Halifax Common
- New pedestrian linkages between the Halifax Ferry Terminal, Historic Properties and Granville Square
- A new urban square at the south end of the district
What is the anticipated land and building use for the parcels that will become available as a result of the Cogswell Redevelopment Project?
The Cogswell Lands Plan provides for six acres of street infrastructure, three kilometers of new curb-separated bike lanes and active transportation paths, four acres of parks and open spaces and five acres of development parcels. It’s anticipated that new development parcels will include primarily residential uses with other uses included to support residents of the area and generate destination-type activities for those outside the area.
As with any proposed development, future developments will be subject to the municipal planning application process, including public engagement and Regional Council approval. Given the long timeline of this project, future market demands will likely have some impact on land uses. Market studies will be reviewed and updated over time to ensure the appropriate uses are enabled based on the needs of the community at the time development is implemented. Land uses and building heights are governed by the existing DH-1 zoning on the site. Amendments to the Downtown Halifax Land Use By-law will be considered in the coming months and will follow the standard planning amendment process including opportunities for public input. It is expected that mixed-use buildings with street-level retail and commercial uses will make Cogswell District home to approximately 2,500 residents.
What is the plan for releasing land for development and how will this affect other developments already underway or proposed within the Halifax region?
The construction phase of the Cogswell Redevelopment Project is expected to be finished by early 2022. Development of newly created lots will not be fully realized until several years after the street infrastructure construction is completed. The municipality will undertake future market studies as required to ensure the land released can be adequately adsorbed by the prevailing future real estate markets. This will ensure other proposed or ongoing developments are not adversely affected by the introduction of new development capacity.
Will there be opportunities for active transportation infrastructure?
Yes. The 60 per cent design plan outlines the new active transportation infrastructure including 1.1km of new 3.3m wide curb-separated bike lanes as well as active transportation trails leading into the downtown core with enhanced connections to the Halifax waterfront, Granville Mall and other key downtown landmarks. There will be dedicated bicycle priority crossings at major intersections and property driveways which will incorporate bicycle signals to ensure rider safety. Narrower streets and wider sidewalks lined with treed boulevards create great walking environments throughout the new district. The multi-use trail extends south along Barrington Street via a linear plaza to Granville Square.
What will the new transit hub look like and how will it improve service?
The transit hub consists of over 550m of dedicated curbside transit lanes along Barrington Street. A condensed transit hub centers on Barrington, Bell and Hollis streets with pedestrian linkages through Granville Plaza to the waterfront and ferry terminal. Bus routes from Duke and Albemarle streets are relocated to the transit block. The street network has been conceived to allow for transit priority, specifically the incorporation of dedicated transit-only lanes on Barrington to Cogswell streets with priority signals. Transit-only lanes extend along Barrington Street between Duke and the Upper Water streets roundabout giving transit service priority. The Granville Square/Ordinance Park areas contribute to the transit hub by providing creative outdoor spaces for transit riders and dedicated pedestrian connections to the waterfront and Halifax Ferry Terminal. Interesting bus shelters, signage, lighting and landscaping make this section of Barrington Street function as an identifiable transit mall. Potential indoor waiting areas in adjacent developed building can provide all-weather shelter for transit users.