Grumbling over no-right-turn corner

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 28/11/2012
DAILY NEWS ONLINE\Fairfax Media

New road plans mean that more heavy traffic will pass through Fitzroy.

tdn bridge stand
ANDY JACKSON
Grumbling has already started over plans for the Waiwhakaiho upgrade.

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More heavy traffic will rumble through Fitzroy because of traffic changes caused by the upgrade of Waiwhakaiho Bridge.

The new plans for the Vickers Rd to City redevelopment will stop Fitzroy traffic on Devon St East turning right on to Northgate.

Firth Concrete on Clemow Rd says its current route to the west via Northgate will be cut off. Trucks will need to use Devon St East, driving through the village's shopping centre.

Supply manager Helen Cheyne says the concrete company has up to 40 trucks in and out of the site daily and the firm is bracing itself for more complaints once the changes come into effect, in two years' time.

"We are the big guys out here running the heavy vehicles and it's us that people come to first to complain."

Ms Cheyne also worries about congestion around the Waiwhakaiho netball courts, which is already an issue for the company.

"We already change our routes when the courts are being used because it's impossible to get two heavy trucks through when roads have cars parked on both sides," she said.

Road Transport Association regional manager Tom Cloke says the plan is bad news for Fitzroy business owners after heavy trucks have been kept at bay for so many years.

Fitzroy businesses have a "gentlemen's agreement" that heavy vehicles won't use the village.

Fitzroy's Mee O Mi shop owner Kris Armstrong says the traffic flow through the village is already heavy but most of it is through-traffic.

"Hopefully a better Northgate road will push more through-traffic over there and Fitzroy will have the right people using the roads again," she said.

Although she is concerned that more heavy vehicles will be using the main street, she says they already use it to a certain degree anyway.

"I'd just like to see less through-traffic so it's easier to get in and out for the general shopper," she said.

One group looking forward to change in 2014 is emergency services, which are unanimous that response times will improve.

New Plymouth Area Commander Inspector Blair Telford says Waiwhakaiho Bridge and the northern outlet is a "shambles".

"The flow-on effects will reach right back to the city and our response to calls there as well," he said.

St John operations manager Ian May agrees and says traffic can be reduced to a standstill in and around the bridge when there are serious crashes.

"The improvements will make us more resilient and I think our response times will improve dramatically," he said.

Fire chief Pat Fitzell says Waitara will definitely benefit from the increased bridge capacity in the plan.

"Because Waitara struggles to get crew for two appliances during the daytime we almost always respond from New Plymouth so this will help," he said.

While New Plymouth residents have welcomed news of the $15 million plan to increase the Waiwhakaiho Bridge by two lanes, South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop is disappointed with the lack of progress at Normanby Bridge.

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"It's great to see development in New Plymouth but we would like to have our share of some of the action," he said.

"I'd say it's come down to New Plymouth being a marginal electorate and promises were made during the election that needed to be upheld."

Venture Taranaki chief executive Stuart Trundle said Taranaki's road link through to Auckland needs to stay on the agenda as well.

"It's worth noting that for real benefit to the Taranaki and New Zealand economies, the Waiwhakaiho Bridge needs to be part of a wider investment in Taranaki's connection to Auckland and beyond," Mr Trundle said.

ROAD FACTS

The average vehicle count through the Vickers Rd to City corridor is 29,000 vehicles per day.

Since 2001 traffic volumes have increased on average 4.7 per cent annually.

Current estimates propose daily traffic numbers will rise to about 59,000 in 2026 and 70,000 in 2046 based on residential and industrial growth in New Plymouth.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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