WHAKATANE'S first traffic light may be on its way, depending on the outcome of a study into Whakatane’s congestion woes.
While members of Whakatane District Council’s project and services committee have agreed to temporarily retain the teardrop configuration of the roundabout on Landing Road near the Whakatane Bridge, they have acknowledged that a wider solution was needed.
For one councillor this wider solution should include a system of automated traffic lights similar to the Maungatapu roundabout in Tauranga.
Scott Jarrett said while the teardrop configuration alleviated the congestion coming into Whakatane, particularly at the section of State Highway 30 near The Hub, it also created traffic issues for other parts of Whakatane.
“It’s just not one thing and it isn’t just about a group of affected people at the end of Landing Road – it affects the whole community.”
He said a long-term solution for the congestion was needed and believed automated traffic lights would help to spread the traffic.
In his report, transportation manager Martin Taylor said an update to the Whakatane Traffic study was the appropriate platform to assess and address the issues relating to the issue of congestion.
“The desired outcome of the study would be the provision of a clear picture of what needs to be undertaken in the short, medium and long-term to ensure Whakatane retains a safe urban network that complies with current roading standards, levels of service within desired levels and a network that is capable of accommodating future growth and demand.”
The study is expected to cost $200,000 and is scheduled to begin in January.
Mr Taylor said recommendations would be made to council once the study was completed in November, 2018.
He said the design of the Landing Road intersection would occur between February and June of 2019 and physical works would take place between October and April of 2020.
The cost of the investigation and design was estimated at $200,000 and the physical works were projected to cost $2.5 million.
In the meantime, Mr Taylor said the option of creating a slip lane from Landing Road west to Hinemoa Street would be explored.
“Through the feedback received, the community have fairly clearly indicated that if the teardrop is to remain, they would like to see some mitigation measures put in place to alleviate their concerns around the restricted access out of Landing Road west and perceived traffic safety concerns on Victoria Avenue.”
Mr Taylor said while a previous report from engineering consultants Beca did not recommend the slip lane as a “safe option”, he believed the option could be explored.
Infrastructure manager Tomasz Krawczyk said an automated traffic light system seemed like the “obvious solution” but the results of the study would prove whether it was the best option.
“It is one of the obvious solutions but it still creates a large expense because we would have to reconfigure the intersection. But it is certainly one of the solutions that could be part of the study.
“However, it would require spending a lot of money not knowing what the shape of the streets is going to look like.”