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Council to go ahead with pedestrian lights

May 30th, 2014
[by David Armstrong, photos from TDC]

Council hopes three signalised pedestrian crossings will be built in central High Street, and the three current zebra crossings removed, by the end of this year.

Almost 30 people attended a good-humoured public meeting at Memorial Hall yesterday at which TDC's Transportation Manager Gary Clark and engineer Jenny Voigt heard a range of comments, suggestions and some objections about the previously announced plan. (See our earlier story here.)

Gary told Motueka Online that his staff will take several of the constructive suggestions on board, make some further enquiries, and complete the plan. The money is available, so as long as design work meets no snags the crossings will be installed by Christmas.

The three new crossings will be at or near the following locations:
    Site 1: Between the Motueka District Museum and the Red Beret Cafe.
    Site 2: Between Unichem Pharmacy and Cyberworld Internet Cafe.
    Site 3: Between The Hospice Shop and Beetees.

These were chosen to be away from confusing side road entries, away from trees (a pedestrian visibility issue), and beside laneways therefore minimising loss of car parks.

Of note at the meeting was that very few alternative sites were suggested. In fact, it is believed that only one High Street retailer was present, and worries about the potential loss of some car parks were few. Gary did say, however, that "the biggest design problem we face is minimising the loss of car parks, and compensating with other new ones".

Marion Edwin, chair of the Parklands School Board of Trustees, asked for the crossing between the museum and Red Beret Cafe be moved a few metres south to better align with the forthcoming revamp of the school entrance. Gary said this would be looked at further.

Another suggestion of interest was making the narrow service lanes linking High Street to Decks Reserve into pedestrian only. Gary said he was sympathetic to the idea and would talk with property owners to see if this was possible.

Much of the discussion was around how to make the road safer to cross and how to slow traffic through the town. Gary gave persuasive arguments that having signalised pedestrian crossings makes it clearer to everyone who goes when, rather than at present pedestrians just suddenly stepping out onto zebra crossings.

It also makes for better efficiency of car movement, with all three lights turning red at the same time if pedestrians are waiting at all crossings. Green light phases will probably have a maximum cycle time of two minutes.

"At times of heavy traffic flows, the signals should make it easier for vehicles to enter and exit minor roads such as Tudor and Wallace streets," he said.

As to pedestrian safety, he said that it is not possible to prevent all potentially dangerous actions such as jay walking, but "what can be done is making the traffic move more slowly and smoothly, reducing the speed of cars if an accident does happen".

He said pedestrian sensors at the light controls will prevent the signals from changing if someone pushes a button and then walks away. Traffic will only be stopped if someone is actually present at the crossing.

Gary said he would also look at the places where pedestrians cross Greenwood Street, Wallace Street and Tudor Street on the south side of High Street, which often congest traffic turning who meet pedestrians at those crossings.

He emphasised that after the crossings are installed, Council will be doing a lot of monitoring of traffic flows, particularly over the shoulder tourist season, so that fine-tuning can be made where necessary.

He would also consider a pedestrian refuge crossing near Hot Mamas, similar to the one opposite The Warehouse, to help slow traffic entering town from the north.

He said the project has a maximum budget of $250,000 with a subsidy of $100,000, but he expects the cost to be less than that.

Some discussion was held about what some see as a preference to have full traffic lights at the dangerous High Street and Pah/Greenwood street intersection. Gary said that was the responsibility of NZTA, but that the pedestrian crossing changes may add pressure for NZTA to have a closer look at Motueka's traffic problems.

Asked about the fate of the existing zebra crossings, he said the road markings will be removed but the bulbous kerbs that narrow the road will stay for now, pending later and separate decisions about the future of the elm trees.

Following the feedback at yesterday's meeting, Gary and his team will consult with landowners about the future status of laneways, confirm the locations of the three crossings, and proceed with work on technical design issues.


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