Median strip closure trial
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?
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.