Traffic lights suggested for 'scary' bridge

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 10:40 16/06/2014

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Traffic lights at either end of the Grove Rd bridge could fix the problems of "scary" two-way traffic, a Blenheim man suggests.

Dave Goodall said he drove trucks on the bridge over the Opawa River on State Highway 1 at the northern entrance to Blenheim, and often experienced people unhappy to go onto the bridge when a truck was coming the other way.

Installing traffic lights at either end, possibly on a timer, could make the bridge one-way in different directions at different times, and that would remove the "scary" factor from crossing it, he suggested.

If the idea was implemented, these would be the only traffic lights in Marlborough.

Installing traffic lights and causing delays on state highways was not favoured by roading authorities, but Goodall said there were already delays on the state highway because people didn't want to go onto the bridge if a truck was coming the other way.

"They wait for you to go through. That in itself stops traffic."

Goodall had lived in Britain for a long time and said bridge lights worked "fine" there.

He has lived in Blenheim for nine years and said the bridge was an accident waiting to happen.

"We just need something drastic to happen and everyone will run for cover."

Truck drivers did safety courses and were aware of other drivers' concerns about the bridge.

"If someone doesn't feel safe going on that bridge, they shouldn't have to. Installing lights would be quick and easy."

Marlborough Roads highway manager Frank Porter said traffic lights were very good at intersections and one-way roads.

But the Grove Rd bridge was neither of these.

It was a two-way road, although he did acknowledge that it was difficult for two trucks to use it at the same time.

The protocol truck drivers had - of recognising the concerns of other drivers and waiting until the bridge was clear before proceeding - was working well, Porter said.

The Marlborough District Council, at a hearing last week, decided it was time to "push harder" for a fix to the "scary" bridge, saying it was time to take a strong stance after years of debate.

The town "definitely" wanted the traffic, but not a bridge where people felt nervous or unable to drive across if a truck was already on it.

NZ Transport Agency data showed there had been six minor injuries from five crashes, and 24 non-injury crashes in the past 10 years, with no serious or fatal crashes.

In the past seven years, there had been no recorded instances of delays longer than 20 minutes.

The 170-metre-long bridge, with its eight arch trusses, was registered with the Historic Places Trust in 1990 and carries a category 1 classification.

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- The Marlborough Express

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