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Motueka Transportation Study: big changes ahead, but over a long period of time

May 13th 2010

The Tasman District Council and NZ Transportation Agency (NZTA) this week released their long-awaited planning document telling us how they intend to deal with Motueka's growing traffic congestion problem.

It has accepted that a new bridge over the Motueka River is not on the planning horizon so for now it must plan for road improvements and bypasses to work within the existing geographic constraints.

This news report presents the main findings and recommendations. The full document - 57 detailed pages plus 227 pages of Appendices - can be viewed on TDC's website, although it is a 27 megabyte PDF file.

The study, jointly commissioned by NZTA and TDC, investigated options for improving the north-south flow through Motueka so that the safety and efficiency of movements along SH60 (High Street) are improved, particularly for pedestrians in the town centre. High Street is owned by the NZTA, so the study aimed to provide information for their future decision-making processes and management within the country’s highway system.

It says there is substantial growth being planned for Motueka, particularly the Wahanga Limited development located to the west of SH60. These developments, and the resultant increase in vehicle flows, parking demand and pedestrian numbers, will place additional pressure onto the transportation network.

However, "due to the current legislative and funding environment, a full bypass of Motueka including a new bridge over the Motueka River is not likely to be progressed within the next 10 to 20 years. Accordingly, consideration of such an option was specifically excluded from the scope of this study, which instead focuses on the short to medium term improvements which can be undertaken before such a bypass is constructed."

Recommendations:

Firstly, for the next two years, a temporary solution will be implemented to cater for through traffic within the summer peak periods. This could involve a northbound route via Queen Victoria Street and a southbound route via Thorp Street.

And secondly, there will be minor High Street improvements, including:

  • Installing a right turn bay and narrowing the entrance or installation of a median island on Tudor Street (being done at present),
  • Narrowing the entrance or installation of a median island on Wallace Street,
  • Relocating the three pedestrian crossings closer to the pedestrian desire lines. This will also involve an assessment of the streetscaping elements of the High Street environment to ensure that the pedestrian crossing locations are not shaded or hidden by street furniture or trees.
  • Marking of the parallel parking bays on High Street,
  • Providing kerb build-outs to cater for the existing cycle stands,
  • Improving the signage of off-street car parking facilities.

Then, in the 2- to 10-year period, they plan to construct Queen Victoria Street as the preferred option for an alternative through route. This should run from King Edward Street in the south to a new extension to SH60 north of Parker Street.

There will be further High Street improvements, including:

  • Installation of a roundabout at the intersection of SH60 with King Edward Street and Old Wharf Road.
  • Installation of a roundabout at the intersection of SH60 with Whakarewa Street along with restriction of turning movements at the New World and The Warehouse accessways.
  • Installation of traffic signals at the intersection of SH60 with Pah Street and Greenwood Street.
  • Creation of off-street parking areas on the western side of SH60 to help manage turning flows at intersections.

In the 10- to 20-year period work would be done to:

  • Extend the Queen Victoria Street route to the south to Wildman Avenue and a new link provided from Wildman to SH60 to provide a more complete alternative through route for Motueka.
  • Create a Talbot Street - Manoy Street link to provide additional internal circulation around Motueka.
  • Additional capacity improvements are likely to be required at the intersection of SH60 and Tudor Street (such as traffic signals) as turning vehicles become subject to longer delays.

Finally, in the long term (20 years on), they would:

  • Progress a full bypass of Motueka with a new bridge over the Motueka River. Whilst this study has not investigated bypass options, a new bridge on the alignment of Queen Victoria Street would be consistent with the study’s recommendation to providing an alternative through route via Queen Victoria Street.
  • Once the full bypass of Motueka has been constructed, no further capacity improvements would likely be needed on High Street. However, the removal of through traffic from High Street does present an excellent opportunity to traffic-calm the town centre and further improve the visual and social amenity of the area.

Specifically, in order to achieve these aims, these improvements were identified to alleviate issues on High Street, listed from south to north:

  1. Installation of a roundabout at the intersection of King Edward Street and Old Wharf Road with High Street. The roundabout would reduce the crash rate and reduce delay for side road and all turning traffic.
  2. Installation of a roundabout at the intersection of Whakarewa Street and High Street. This could be implemented with the restriction of turning movements into the New World and Hickmott Carpark to ‘in’ only from High Street. The exit would be via Woodland Avenue, onto the proposed roundabout, or Tudor Street. The entry could be further restricted to left-in only, which would reduce the number of vehicle movement conflicts on High Street. Restriction of the turning movements at the High Street entrance to The Warehouse could also be considered by creating an exit onto Naumai Street.
  3. Narrow the entrance or install a median island on Tudor Street to encourage turning vehicles to slow down. This will improve the provision for pedestrians across Tudor Street and allow marking of a right turn bay into Tudor Street.
  4. Relocation of the three zebra crossings on High Street away from intersection conflicts with turning vehicles. One or all of the zebra crossings could be replaced by signalised pedestrian crossings in the future.
  5. Marking of parallel parking bays on both sides of High Street between Whakarewa Street and Poole Street. This is to formalise the parking zone, and would retain the existing parking duration of P60 and P10.
  6. Narrow the entrance or install a median island on Wallace Street to encourage turning vehicles to slow down. This would improve the pedestrian provisions across Wallace Street..
  7. Provide kerb build-outs to cater for the existing cycle stands to help promote cycling by provision of a safe location for cycle parking. The existing cycle stands are positioned so that cycles are on the High Street parking shoulder where they could possibly be struck by vehicles.
  8. Installation of traffic signals at the intersection with Pah Street and Greenwood Street. This will include facilities for pedestrians to cross.

All these improvements would have localised benefits such as reductions in side road delays, improving the town centre environment and improving the facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. However, none of them on their own would significantly improve the traffic flow on High Street, especially during the summer period.




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