Nelson mail Article: 11 Dec 2013 KATE DAVIDSON
he Tahunanui community is celebrating a U-turn on the layout of the main shopping centre intersection, which will protect parking and improve safety.
“We are delighted to know people will soon have a safer intersection and have safer access to essential services,” said Tahunanui community centre spokeswoman Judy Robinson.
Tahunanui residents and business people had marched in protest in August calling for the area to be made safer.
The council and NZ Transport Agency announced a four-year moratorium on the southbound clearway at Tahunanui intersection on State Highway 6, which will become exclusively car parking instead of a part-time lane for traffic heading south towards Stoke – leaving just one southbound lane for through traffic.
Since October 2007 the road south of Bisley Ave acted as “part time clearway” in peak traffic hours and as carparking the rest of the time. The left turning lane into Bisley Ave will now be a left turning lane only.
Tahunanui local Lee Corlett, who spoke at the march, said today the decision was “fantastic” news.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.
Ms Robinson said the community now believed they had been heard by the council and NZ Transport Agency following the community march and public forum held earlier this year.
Tahunanui business association chairman Mike Thomas said the changes would improve safety at the intersection.
The council’s commitment to reviewing the parking plan, which formed part of the Tahunanui Structure Plan from 2004, and the potential provision of a pedestrian refuge to allow safer crossing in the vicinity of the medical centre, would further assist the redevelopment of the community, he said.
Mr Thomas said the new mayor and council had been “helpful” in resolving “unfinished business” and making the changes happen.
“Tahunanui certainly has been listened to by the new council and things are happening,” he said.
He said the business association, the community centre, the council, and NZ Transport Agency had “got a lot of things sorted out” after sitting down together this week. He was “very happy with the way it had gone” and believed the people of Tahunanui would also be “happy” with the outcome.
John Gilbertson of the Tahunanui Business Association said the current road layout at the intersection had “never worked” with people racing their cars through and regularly causing accidents or near misses. He was “looking forward to having a single lane there with less speed and making it safer for our community”.
NZ Transport Agency acting highway manager Nelson, Mark Owen said the changes would cause some delays in the sort-term to afternoon road users during peak times, but the new layout would be safer and “more user friendly”.
“We want to strike a fair balance between the needs of both the local community and motorists, and we’re very pleased to have reached an agreement on a way forward,” he said.
Mayor Rachel Reese said the moratorium was a good solution and would provide time to “reflect on what will be best for the local community and for commuters for the long-term”.
Mr Owen said the Transport Agency would be changing the layout immediately. Clearway signage would be removed and road marking changed over the next couple of days. Motorists are asked to “keep their eyes peeled and observe the change to the road layout, which means there will now be two dedicated turning lanes and just one southbound lane for through traffic.”
The council will continue to work on a long term strategy for the area.