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High Street improvements unlikely in foreseeable future

November 9th, 2011
[by David Armstrong]

Motueka will likely have to wait a very long time for any improvements to traffic flow in High Street or a town bypass, under current government policy for road spending.

Councillor Barry Dowler told the Motueka Community Board's November meeting yesterday that while the National party remains in power its roading agency NZTA will be advancing no new developments in Tasman and Nelson. All such funds are now being channeled into "Roads of National Significance", mainly in the major cities.

Barry said this policy was made clear at a recent meeting he attended of the Regional Land Transport Committee for Tasman, of which he is deputy chairman. "The only way that there will be a change in the future will be if there is a change in government," he told the community board.

This news was the centrepiece of several discussions in which the frustration of board members and residents were aired that High Street remains over-congested and unsafe, particularly around the Greenwood Street / Pah Street intersection where most people agree traffic lights are now necessary.

Barry later told Motueka Online that the only hope at present is to tap a minor budget at NZTA for "safety improvements", which could be used for traffic lights and roundabouts. However although the criteria would be easily met, that budget is very small and could not be relied upon to deliver.

Board chairman David Ogilvie, who for over a year now has strongly and persistently advocated traffic lights and two new roundabouts, said he was frustrated and dismayed that "not one item from the Motueka Transportation Study published in 2009 has been done".

He said that despite total stonewalling by NZTA, the board needs to retain its recommendations on the project list and keep pushing for the work by placing it on the meetings held with NZTA.

Board member Cliff Satherley said Motueka needs to ask NZTA how much money has been collected each year from the Tasman region for roading work since 2008 and how much money has been invested back into the region. The board passed a motion that such a request be put.

The board also tabled a petition from 50 residents, asking that board do something to "divert large trucks from High Street to an alternative route to get through town, with the exception of service vehicles for the retailers". Having just been told about the unavailability of any funds for any such work, most board members expressed cynicism that the petition could get anywhere, but in the end they decided to forward it to NZTA.

David Ogilvie said the board should at least consider partial solutions such as diverting heavy traffic at certain times, but others said this would just get new complaints from residents living on any alternative routes.

Earlier in the meeting, as part of his report from the chair, David questioned Cr Barry Dowler (who is on council's Engineering Services Committee) about how much of TDC's roading budget is spent in the Motueka ward.

He believed that, apart from the work done last year on High Street by NZTA, he was struggling to think of any major roading work done in the ward for the past 4 to 5 years - certainly not in the $6 million to $7.5m each year that would be expected as our proportion of the region's roading budget.

Adding to David's recommendation on specific road improvements (see our story here), Cliff Satherley asked that council's transportation manager Gary Clark be asked for a breakdown on figures for work in Motueka, and what the programme is for work to be done on Parker Street as the new subdivisions there are bedded down.

Motueka Library:  Also discussed at the meeting was progress on planning for an upgrade to the library. Council has contracted its favoured project management firm, RDT Pacific, to examine options and prepare plans. Community Services manager Lloyd Kennedy said it is still an open question as to whether it would be an upgrade to the existing building or a new building on a new site, but the current financial situation meant an upgrade will be much more likely.

David Ogilvie said that, given the existing library had already been upgraded and extended several times to the point where it had become a "dog's breakfast", he hoped this would not be made even worse with another extension. Lloyd said that one had only to look at the upgrading of the Richmond Library to see how well an upgrade could be done on an existing site.

Community cleanup:  Paul Hawkes told the board that he and Mark Chapman had prepared ideas for a big litter cleanup to be held in the residential area on Sunday, December 11th - three weeks after the already planned annual "Big Beach Cleanup" event for the whole of Tasman/Nelson.

They plan to appoint ambassadors who will supervise their own residential areas and organise pickups for disposal. Commercial operators will be asked to help in the disposal with some small recompense for costs provided via the board's discretionary funds.

CBD obstacle course:  In his report from the chair, David Ogilvie said that he had heard some "accessibility" concerns relating to chairs, tables, signs and notice boards on footpaths outside High Street shops which "can constitute obstacles for people on crutches, mobile scooters etc".

He suggested shop owners could be asked to place these items uniformly either all on the kerb side or on the shopfront side, so there would be a predictable obstacle-free line down length of the footpath. The board decided to ask council's compliance officer to check the situation and report back to the board's next meeting.

Dumping at gravel pit sites:  Following the board's October meeting (see our story here), David reported on correspondence with council's compliance officer about reports of illegal and polluting materials dumped at old gravel pits, especially CJ Industries.

He said regular monitoring of the site had shown no cause for serious concerns, although there have been some instances of infringement and abatement notices being served at times in the past. David will present a full report of council's investigations at the board's December meeting.

Landscaping:  Having obtained the required consents, the Motueka Quay development project is now under way. Bollards and barriers have been made and areas marked out for their installation. Because it is an historic site, care is being taken to use appropriate materials and construction techniques.

Planning is also in progress for an overall landscape plan for the town's entrance. Council is recommending that a local, non-council landscape architect be used for the planning stage.


Comment by Philip Grimmett:
[Posted 12 November 2011]

Re NZTA's response to a the Motueka highway not being important enough and would need a change of government to tackle the issue. Thanks to Barry for discovering the solution. Point the blowtorch to your MP's bum. I guarantee he will be attentive for at least two weeks.

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