Community invited to have their say on traffic upgrade for Motueka High Street
Traffic lights and a 40kmh speed limit are some of the changes proposed to improve traffic flow on Motueka's main street.
Following a strategic case released in 2016, the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is investigating short to medium term improvements to High Street to improve safety issues and traffic flows.
A new survey opened today with NZTA inviting submissions on three proposed options for the town which include pedestrian crossings, traffic lights, car parking access along High St.
Among the proposed improvements are the installation of traffic lights at the troublesome Pah and Greenwood St intersection as well as Tudor St.
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Additional turning bays, controlled pedestrian crossings and pedestrian refuges have also been suggested.
A 40 kmh speed limit is also being proposed in the surveyed area.
Traffic congestion on Motueka's High St has been a sticking point for more than 20 years and business owners and residents are welcoming the chance to provide feedback on the issue.
Carparking on High St will be reduced by 27 spaces under option one, while another take a further 12 spaces as well as 19 more from Tudor, Pah and Greenwood Sts.
Roundabout options at King Edward St, as well as Whakarewa St and Woodland Ave are also being put forward for consultation.
The work is part of the wider SH60 Richmond to Collingwood investigation.
The area covered by this survey is between Poole Street and Whakarewa St.
Motueka Ward councillor Paul Hawkes said the consultation decision was "huge", and brought to an end a frustrating 20 years of time and cost, which had included three prior studies.
"Overall, its just nice to actually see some light at the end of the tunnel – it's been so bloody dim and at times the light has been extinguished and every time they talk about it they want to do another study," he said. "If this wasn't a State Highway it would have been done years ago."
Hawkes rated the traffic lights and Whakarewa St intersection as highest priorities.
He favoured a low-level roundabout at Whakarewa St over a realignment of the road as it provided better vision and manoeuvreability for heavy vehicles.
While a liaison group had met regularly with NZTA, Hawkes hoped the Motueka Community Board and councillors could have a more in-depth discussion with the agency before the consultation period was over.
"That way, we can actually run through the options and then the community board can actually steer the consultation and say; 'hey this is what we believe is best for town. What do you reckon?' To me that gives it a bit more clout."
Transport Agency Regional Relationships Director Jim Harland said Motueka had a thriving centre and traffic volumes were increasing, with continued growth expected in the area.
"High Street provides for regional through traffic, as well as for regular everyday use such as parking and access via side roads." he said.
"The design of the pedestrian crossings needs improvement and a number of intersections could be redesigned to work more effectively."
The Transport Agency had developed improvement options with input from Tasman District Council, the Motueka Community Board, the police and the Automobile Association.
Local business owners, such as Life Pharmacy owner David Ross, welcomed the proposed changes and reiterated that reducing congestion, not overall traffic numbers was the key to addressing High St's transport problems.
He said having traffic lights at Pah and Greenwood, as well as controlled pedestrian crossings would assist in meeting these objectives.
"For 90 per cent of the year it's absolutely fine – it just it bottlenecks over Christmas – I know a lot of people whinge about it but it's a very short period of time maybe a month or so when it's chaotic."
"You do take your life in your hands sometimes going across the zebra crossing in summer, but to me having a button control would be a good thing."
The community engagement period will run from 19 June until 14 July, and will include community events at the Motueka Sunday Market, Decks Reserve on June 25 and a drop in session at the TDC service centre on June 29.