Roundabouts considered

PENNY WARDLE
Last updated 11:30 29/06/2012

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Marlborough District councillors yesterday learned of plans to ease congestion on State Highway 6/Middle Renwick Rd in Blenheim and heard they were unlikely to get any national funding for it.

Mayor Alistair Sowman said yesterday's workshop was the council's first chance to look at real options for Middle Renwick Rd, in Springlands. Despite the lack of national funding, he was confident Marlborough solutions could be found for Marlborough traffic problems, such as making the changes in stages.

Councillor Jenny Andrews questioned the low priority for funding to fix the trouble spots.

"We have a lot of elderly people nearby, in rest homes, and it is a busy area for schools," she said.

Also on the affected stretch of road was a medical centre and a supermarket.

Cr Andrews asked NZ Transport Agency planning and investment manager Peter Hookham whether these social factors were considered when awarding a priority to these works. "Elderly people who are left standing, wondering how to cross in safety could have died by the time solutions are found," she said.

Opus International Consultants Blenheim manager Brent Morgan said after looking at lots of options the plan that stacked up best was to build three new roundabouts and shift a pedestrian crossing.

At peak times, people faced long waits at Middle Renwick Rd intersections and traffic banked up, Mr Morgan said.

Opus used information from the council's urban growth strategy to calculate that traffic volumes were likely to increase by about 66 per cent at the Colemans Rd intersection and 30 per cent at Boyce St.

"In 15 years, it will be virtually impossible to get out of Colemans Rd and cars will queue up for about a kilometre," Mr Morgan said.

Traffic volumes were predicted to fall 30 per cent at the Murphys Rd-Battys Rd intersection, despite this area being regarded by Blenheim residents as a hot-spot.

Crash history showed the intersections were not especially dangerous, compared with similar roads around New Zealand, Mr Morgan said.

The Opus study looked at traffic lights as an alternative to roundabouts but the option was rejected because the inefficiency of stopping cars was counted as a cost.

"Every time we slow someone down through an intersection and they have to go through their gears, brake and accelerate, they use more fuel and more resources, which counts as a cost to the community," Mr Morgan said.

Cr Peter Jerram pointed out that information used in the study had changed. For example a report had showed a high risk of liquefaction in areas tagged for subdivision north of New Renwick Rd.

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The council assets and services committee will take a closer look at the Middle Renwick Rd plans and how they could be funded.

- The Marlborough Express

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