Residents welcome pathway solution

04022015 News Photo Kelly Hodel / Fairfax NZ
Tawa St Resident Phil Ward, is worried the proposed ideas on a cycle ...

04022015 News Photo Kelly Hodel / Fairfax NZ Tawa St Resident Phil Ward, is worried the proposed ideas on a cycle crossing will be dangerous with trucks turning into Tawa St Kahikatea Dr Intersection.

A decision by the New Zealand Transport Agency not to close the busy Tawa St slip road and to re-align a portion of the Kahikatea Drive shared pedestrian-cycleway has been welcomed by local residents Phill and Daphne Ward.

As part of the $1.4 million Kahikatea Drive shared pedestrian-cycleway, the agency put the plan in front of local residents in its public consultation late last year.

The Wards made a submission pointing out that the closing of the Tawa St slip road, as initially proposed, would funnel heavy traffic into Tawa St and straight into the route of the shared pedestrian-cycleway.

This could leave heavy truck-and-trailer units half-in and half-out of Kahikatea Drive, posing a risk to cyclists and pedestrians.

NZ Transport Agency highways manager Kaye Clark said the detailed design and safety assessments for the pedestrian-cycleway were subject to finishing by independent road safety auditors.

"At that stage, the preliminary design of the shared pathway took the most direct route across the triangular island between the two entrances to Tawa St. But after looking at all the available options, the designer and auditors have decided to change the alignment of the path and move the crossing to an area that will give motorists more visibility of pedestrians and cyclists crossing the road.

"As a result, the alignment of the pathway will now follow Tawa St along the slip road and cross the road where the Tawa St slip road meets the main Tawa St.

"Although this route is less direct for pedestrians and cyclists, it will improve safety," she said.

"The change also means the Tawa St slip road will no longer need to be closed."

Daphne Ward welcomed the change of plan and the decision to retain the Tawa St slip road. Husband Phill Ward said the reconsideration by NZ Transport Agency was a victory for common sense. "Now we have the shared pathway crossing Tawa St, visibility in all directions will be much improved. "The new plan is a big step ahead with the slip road remaining open and the entry lanes much safer."

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Ward said the project had also brought residents of Tawa St together with a single cause and people remained concerned about the fate of the kahikatea trees at the crossing point. We are all watching and remaining hopeful. It is good that a community can come together and achieve a commonsense outcome," he said.

Meanwhile, construction of the shared pathway is well under way and expected to open to cyclists and pedestrians before Easter. Designed to alleviate traffic congestion by encouraging more people to cycle and walk, the project provides a safe, three-metre-wide off-road path that runs along Greenwood St and Kahikatea Drive.

 - Waikato Times

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