Me­dian strip clo­sure trial

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By DAVID NICOLL

Mata­mata Pi­ako District Coun­cil is look­ing to make changes to two thor­ough­fares as part of a plan to im­prove traf­fic con­di­tions in the cen­tral busi­ness district.

At the meet­ing on July 9, the coun­cil re­solved to sup­port a trial to close off the ac­cess to the me­dian strips in the two cen­tre is­lands on Broad­way op­po­site He­tana St and Wa­haroa Rd East.

The changes come af­ter the coun­cil com­piled a re­port that looked at is­sues of park­ing and safety around the Mata­mata i-Site and He­tana St toi­lets.

Coun­cil com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer Ni­cole Nooyen said the area has seen an in­crease in heavy traf­fic with a large num­ber of tourists stop­ping to take pho­tos and visit the i-Site. The coun­cil be­lieve the safety of pedes­tri­ans will be im­proved by clos­ing the He­tana St me­dian strip ac­cess and elim­i­nat­ing the right hand turn into He­tana St.

‘‘ By do­ing the same to the Wa­haroa Rd East me­dian ac­cess it will ad­dress some safety con­cerns and help elim­i­nate traf­fic con­ges­tion at this turn.

‘‘These changes are sub­ject to New Zealand Trans­port Agency ap­proval and dis­cus­sion with sur­round­ing land own­ers. Once coun­cil has ap­proval, a trial date will be set.’’

Nooyen said it will be a tem­po­rary trial and the coun­cil will mon­i­tor and re­view the trial be­fore a de­ci­sion is made as to whether this should be a per­ma­nent change.

‘‘The cost of the new changes to Broad­way will be re­viewed af­ter coun­cil has spo­ken to NZTA and sur­round­ing landown­ers.’’

i- Site man­ager Sue Whit­ing said while she hadn’t been of­fi­cially in­formed of the out­come, she looked for­ward to the pro­posed changes.

Whit­ing said Mata­mata had turned into such a busy town that some change was re­quired.

‘‘We’re a hugely busy town now, not only be­cause of the Hob­biton busi­ness and the in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors but be­cause we have just turned into an ex­tremely busy town and with that we do need to make some par­tic­u­lar changes to the town’s street area.’’

While the i- Site was hav­ing prob­lems with tourists tak­ing pho­tos of the build­ing from the road, Whit­ing said they changed the build­ing to elim­i­nate the prob­lem.

‘‘We changed the fo­cus of the build­ing to the He­tana St carpark and that doesn’t seem to be a prob­lem any more for the road.’’

Vis­i­tor num­bers to Hob­biton had dou­bled from 100,000 to 200,000 this year and pro­jected es­ti­mates by the i-Site ex­pect that to rise to 350,000 next year.

Nooyen said the in­crease in vis­i­tor num­bers had not made an im­pact on the town’s re­stroom fa­cil­i­ties but the coun­cil would look into as­sess­ing that due to vis­i­tor num­bers in­creas­ing.

‘‘ The Wa­haroa toi­lets are cleaned twice a day and He­tana St toi­lets four times daily. The toi­lets are well main­tained and we re­ceive reg­u­lar pos­i­tive feed­back about their clean­li­ness. The in­creased amount of tourists has not af­fected the up­keep of the toi­lets but it has meant that there is a large num­ber of peo­ple want­ing to use the toi­lets at one time. An as­sess­ment is start­ing shortly to look at our pub­lic toi­lets and their vis­i­tor num­bers to as­sess if any changes need to be made.’’

The coun­cil in­ves­ti­gated the op­tion of charg­ing for the He­tana St toi­lets about 18 months ago, and at that time coun­cil re­solved not to charge for the use of the toi­lets.

What do you think of the pro­posed changes? Will the coun­cil’s trial im­prove pedes­trian safety and traf­fic con­ges­tion?

Photo: TERESA HAT­TAN

Up with best: Te Kura o Wa­haroa stu­dents Te Kaahu Heke-Sweet, 7, left, and Te Puawai­t­anga Kere­opa, 9, were among the school’s kapa haka group to per­form at Mata­mata’s Memo­rial Cen­tre last Thurs­day. The stu­dents per­formed at the fi­nal per­for­mance by Te Wharekura o Te Rau Aroha be­fore they at­tended Nga Kapa Haka Tuarua o Aotearoa 2014, the Na­tional Se­condary Schools Kapa Haka fes­ti­val held in Gis­borne this week. The na­tion­als will see 40 teams com­pete for the over­all win­ner’s crown, with fi­nals day sched­uled for Fri­day.

David Nicoll is a Win­tec jour­nal­ism stu­dent.

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