Nelson Mail Article – Tracey Neal : 10th July 2013

A report on a plan to improve traffic flows through the Tahunanui intersection has been shelved just before its public release, which has forced the Nelson City Council to can this week’s edition of its fortnightly Live Nelson publication.

The New Zealand Transport Agency was to have released a report on improvements to State Highway 6, Tahunanui intersection, but Mayor Aldo Miccio confirmed today that NZTA had agreed to pull the report and review it later.

Mr Miccio said it made sense to look at it after the study on the Rocks Rd walkway-cycleway study, which was due to start soon.

“It makes no sense to do it prior,” Mr Miccio said.

He confirmed there would be no edition of Live Nelson this week as a result, because the report was to have been distributed via the council publication.

Plans to make changes to the intersection have already raised the ire of Tahunanui business operators, who are concerned about a possible widespread removal of parking in the area.

NZTA recently met businesses to discuss issues around the safety of the intersection at the Tahunanui lights. In a report to the council, the agency said that one option for improving the intersection was to extend the clearway, but that needed support and consultation.

The Tahunanui Business Association was recently unanimous in wanting clearways along Tahunanui Drive removed, saying they were ineffective and harmed businesses in the area.

The association said the clearways did not work, with cars parked in the left-hand lane causing delays or accidents.

Councillor Rachel Reese, who supported the association’s position, said today if NZTA’s idea was to align this project with the Rocks Rd study then people were right to be concerned about loss of parking and access to the beach and waterfront.

“Removing access to a local diary, banking facilities, a doctor and a blood bank is a serious limitation on key services in the Tahunanui community, as well as a risk to these businesses’ survival,” Ms Reese said.

The business association’s administration officer John Gilbertson said today they would still go ahead with a meeting planned for tomorrow night, to discuss a stance the association planned to take on the planned changes, despite the report having been temporarily shelved.

Mr Gilbertson said neither of the two options, as they understood them, were suitable because they would “kill businesses” in the area.

“It’s all about better traffic flow, but to leave it as one [lane] would mean delays

of up to four minutes. Well, big deal – you want to stuff our shopping area and medical centre for a four-minute improvement?

“There has to be a solution for the longer term.”

NZTA regional manager of planning and investment Lyndon Hammond said today that the purpose of the study was to address “significant congestion and safety issues” that had arisen at the intersection.

“These concerns remain significant and we will continue to investigate them and work closely with the community and council as we seek to resolve them,” Mr Hammond said.

He said through working with the council, NZTA had recognised that the community was eager to understand the connection, if any, between this work at the Tahunanui intersection and the Rocks Rd study, and to ensure it was taking an integrated approach for the long term.

“As such, we’ve decided to revisit our approach by assessing how the work at Tahunanui relates to the wider Rocks Rd study, and exploring whether an interim solution to address the congestion and safety problems until the study findings are delivered is the best way forward,” Mr Hammond said.

Ms Reese said she was unaware that Live Nelson had been pulled, and hoped that ratepayers’ money had not been wasted if it had been printed.

“I’d expect NZTA to reimburse costs if their late decision to keep this out of the public arena until a later time is the reason for Live Nelson being pulled,” she said.

– © Fairfax NZ News