Residents' doubts dash road proposal

AARON LEAMAN
Last updated 05:00 06/10/2012

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A trial of traffic islands at four key Hamilton East intersections has been shelved after a neighbourhood backlash.

The Hamilton City Council planned the two-week trial as part of a wider initiative to improve road safety in Hamilton East.

The council earmarked the suburb as an area of focus, saying Hamilton East roads were prone to "rat running" and its intersections were high-risk areas for crashes.

The traffic island initiative was planned for the intersections of Cook and Firth streets, Cook and Nixon streets, Nixon and Albert streets, and Firth and Albert streets.

But at a public meeting this week, residents urged the council to can the trial, saying the proposal had been poorly thought out.

Hamilton East Community Trust chairwoman Lois Livingston said she was heartened by the council's reversal.

"[Hamilton City Council city transport manager] Phil Consedine attended the public meeting and I thought he was excellent because he listened to people's concerns, but you have to wonder why the council didn't listen to us in the first place," Ms Livingston said. "Road safety is an issue in Hamilton East but it's an issue in all city suburbs. Our trust wrote to Mayor Julie Hardaker and asked why the council wanted to spend all this money on traffic islands when they hadn't talked to the community first.

"There was little thought as to how blocking off these intersections would affect main roads like Grey St and Clyde St." Ms Livingston, a regional councillor, said the city council also failed to consult with the Waikato Regional Council on how the traffic islands would affect buses.

The regional body is in charge of running the region's bus networks.

Hamilton City Council city infrastructure general manager Chris Allen said residents supported initiatives such as lowering the speed limit to 40kmh but believed the traffic islands would cause problems.

"The residents have also made some really good suggestions about alternative methods to make . . . streets safer."

Other possible roading solutions include narrowing the carriageways, chicanes, pedestrian refuge islands, mini roundabouts or speed tables, similar to the Victoria St-Hood St intersection.

The preferred treatment will be used in combination with slower speed limits.

Transport safety and access improvement initiatives are being considered in 25 areas across the city. The initiatives, which are planned for installation early next year, will cost about $1.9 million.

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- Waikato Times

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