Nelson city councillor Mel Courtney says the community should have been consulted on the traffic lights that are to be built near Station Reserve. Photo: Kate Russell.

Councillor aims to red-light Waimea Rd traffic plan

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A Nelson city councillor is on a mission to back-track plans to install new traffic lights on one of Nelson’s busiest routes.

Mel Courtney is preparing to lodge a notice of motion to council, asking that the non-notified resource consent granted to Questral Corporation in 2016, relating to the installation of traffic lights on Waimea Rd, be revoked.

The notice of motion has been seconded by councillor Luke Acland and will go before a full council meeting on 19 February.

The new intersection and lights will be close to the old Bishopdale Pottery site near Station Reserve, 350m north of Beatson Rd with the new road providing access to the Tasman Heights subdivision and Coastal Views Lifestyle Village.

Mel says he sought the views of a cross-section of the community through an online poll, which attracted 1,700 votes. He said 75 percent of those votes thought that a roundabout or the merging of vehicles would be a better option than traffic lights.

“The views of the Nelson community were not sought prior to the resource consent being granted because the installation of traffic lights on Waimea Rd was considered not to be of significance,” he says.

“The community disagrees with this, believing that a roundabout or a merging of vehicles would be superior options and council should, before any revised decision is made, prove the decision is based on factual certainty.”

Mel said the response to the poll “blew him away”.

“I want council to pause and re-examine this part of the resource consent. Why would you approve traffic lights so far out from the development even starting?”

But council says the traffic lights, which are being paid for and built by the developer, are proposed as the “most efficient long-term option” to control traffic at the new intersection.

They say a roundabout wasn’t supported due to there not being enough space, and merge lanes would be unsafe, due to Waimea Rd’s high traffic volumes.

Marg Parfitt, council’s acting group manager infrastructure, says a recent safety and capacity assessment of the proposed intersection showed the need for traffic lights to safely accommodate the traffic generated by the development.

“The resource consent was granted on a non-notified basis given the agreement, by traffic engineers preparing the design and the traffic experts assessing the application, that the traffic effects on the wider road network of this change in the land use would be no more than minor.”

She adds that the intersection design includes a southbound lane that isn’t controlled by the traffic lights so will allow “free traffic flow” in that direction.

“Northbound traffic will only be stopped when a vehicle wants to get in or out of Princes Dr.”

Meanwhile, Mel says it all comes back to communication.

“I’m just asking on behalf of these people.”