Traf­fic trial set to con­tinue

Traf­fic prob­lems have plagued cen­tral Mata­mata for months. Mata­mata-Pi­ako Dis­trict Coun­cil last week al­tered the me­dian bar­ri­ers and will ex­tend the trial for an­other two months. Teresa Hat­tan re­ports.

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

In what has been de­scribed as a ‘‘ big and bold’’ move by the Mata­mata-Pi­ako Dis­trict Coun­cil, an at­tempt at mit­i­gat­ing the traf­fic woes in Mata­mata’s cen­tral busi­ness dis­trict, is now en­ter­ing its fourth month.

Af­ter first be­ing re­ported in the Mata­mata Chron­i­cle in July, the me­dian trial has sparked de­bate which looks set to con­tinue.

Last Wed­nes­day, MPDC staff and mayor Jan Barnes spoke at a Mata­mata Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion meet­ing about the Broad­way me­dian trial.

A traf­fic en­gi­neer’s re­port on the trial was pre­sented and sub­mis­sions re­ceived from the public were dis­cussed.

Early on Fri­day morn­ing, changes were made to the Broad­way me­dian trial which now sees ve­hi­cles be­ing able to turn right from Wa­haroa East Rd on to Broad­way. All other bar­ri­ers re­main in their cur­rent place.

In the first in­stance, Barnes said the coun­cil had been big and bold with the trial. She said the coun­cil wanted to en­gage with busi­nesses and the public around the pro­posal and changes.

‘‘We had some is­sues and we’ve stepped up and given it a try.’’

She said the coun­cil had had a lot of feed­back, most from very pas­sion­ate res­i­dents and ratepay­ers.

Of the 1074 sub­mis­sions re­ceived, 90.4 per cent thought traf­fic flow and safety wasn’t im­proved while 89.5 per cent thought pedes­trian safety wasn’t im­proved. A to­tal of 91.5 per cent didn’t think the two me­di­ans should be per­ma­nently closed.

MPDC en­gi­neer­ing of­fi­cer Mike van Bys­ter­veldt said staff had also re­ceived a large num­ber of com­ments, many say­ing the clo­sures had added to traf­fic con­ges­tion.

MPDC group manager ser­vice de­liv­ery Fiona Vessey said road traf­fic safety was the coun­cil’s pri­or­ity.

‘‘ The aim of the trial is to im­prove traf­fic flow and safety on this sec­tion of Broad­way,’’ she said.

With feed­back from the first phase of the trial, many sug­ges­tions asked for a by­pass to be con­structed.

‘‘Traf­fic through Mata­mata has been in­creas­ing and un­til the State High­way 1 al­ter­ations are com­pleted over the next four years we won’t know the ef­fect that this will have on Mata­mata traf­fic flow,’’ MPDC chief ex­ec­u­tive Don McLeod said. ‘‘In the mean­time we need to man­age the best we

can, par­tic­u­larly be­fore mak­ing any de­ci­sions about a by­pass that will cost $23 mil­lion.’’

He also said a by­pass wouldn’t be gov­ern­ment-sub­sidised.

Barnes was also clear on her po­si­tion around a by­pass.

‘‘I don’t want a by­pass. Half our town feeds off the traf­fic that goes through town.’’

Barnes said the coun­cil was deal­ing with what she con­sid­ered to be a pos­i­tive prob­lem.

‘‘ Is vol­ume of traf­fic a bad thing? We can put it [the road] back to sta­tus quo but we’ll still have prob­lems,’’ she said.

Barnes wanted to get across two main points. She said the coun­cil was not able to open the right­hand turn from Broad­way to Wa­haroa East Rd.

‘‘ Con­ges­tion from He­tana St and the i-Site builds from this right-hand turn,’’ she said.

The other was the fact grid­lock­ing at cer­tain parts of the day was al­ready oc­cur­ring be­fore the trial be­gan last year.

‘‘We have four years un­til the Waikato Ex­press­way, which runs from Po­keno to the Cam­bridge Golf Course, is com­pleted. We won’t know what we will look like when that’s all op­er­a­tional.’’

Barnes said she and coun­cil staff had been asked ‘‘so many times’’ about di­vert­ing trucks off

Broad­way, but the coun­cil could not stop this from hap­pen­ing. It wasn’t as sim­ple as ask­ing the trucks to use a dif­fer­ent route, she said.

Many trucks, most dis­play­ing an ‘‘H’’ sticker, are di­rected by the New Zealand Trans­port Agency to only travel along state high­ways in­stead of lo­cal roads, which brings them along Broad­way as it is a state high­way.

But NZTA was sure there would be a def­i­nite shift in trucks trav­el­ling through Mata­mata’s CBD once the Waikato Ex­press­way was com­pleted.

Fi­nally, Barnes said open­ing up the right- hand turn out of Wa­haroa East Rd gave the com­mu­nity an­other chance to have their say.

Where to from here?

Sim­i­lar to the pre­vi­ous trial, this trial will be in place for a twom­onth pe­riod.

In the long term, van Bys­ter­veldt said it was pos­si­ble He­tana St could be made into a one- way street with park­ing in­creased and the foot­path and is­lands around the i-Site widened. Van Bys­ter­veldt said this would come at a cost of about $40,000-$50,000. The coun­cil is now seek­ing feed­back from Mata­mata busi­nesses and res­i­dents on this lat­est trial.

Photo: TERESA HAT­TAN

TRIAL CHANGE: Ve­hi­cles can now turn right out of Wa­haroa East Rd. All other me­dian bar­ri­ers re­main closed.

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