Hampden St resident Dominic Alford is often a first responder to accidents at the intersection. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

Hampden St closure aims to improve safety

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The decision to close part of Hampden St to traffic is being praised a resident who says that he is often the ‘first responder’ to accidents at the busy intersection.

Hampden St resident Dominic Alford says he has seen many injuries sustained while living there.

One time he looked out the window to see what he thought was a mannequin on top of a car.

“Then I looked closer, the guy had his motorbike helmet on, and he started moving his arm and I went ‘oh shit’. I could see the windscreen had been broken and the guy’s jeans had torn, and he had some deep lacerations on his legs.”

The west side of the intersection will soon be closed by Nelson City Council as part of a 12-month-trial to improve safety at the site.

The closure will see one side of Hampden St closed to traffic using planter boxes and will also provide a protected pedestrian pathway, including kerb ramps. Reflectors will be installed to make them visible at night.

Changes will be made to signage and line marking will be made to show the changed traffic conditions clearly.

Dominic says it’s a brilliant idea to combat an issue that he has raised with the council before.

He has even watched people drive over the footpath and his front lawn because they are too impatient to wait in the rush hour grid lock.

Council say issues with the Hampden Street/Waimea Road intersection have been identified to them as a high crash risk area, especially with the potential for involving cyclists and pedestrians.

There have been 14 reported crashes between 2012 and 2019 and half of those involved vulnerable road users.

Works and infrastructure committee chair Stuart Walker says it is a known trouble spot on the transport network and the crash rate is “unacceptable”.

Council says they have been in touch with stakeholder groups, local businesses, schools and residents of Hampden Street West and Hampden Terrace to get their feedback on the proposal for the trial closure.

However, some at last week’s meeting questioned whether true consultation had taken place. Only 22 out of 47 residents and businesses contacted by the council responded, and no attempt was made to contact residents in streets surrounding Hampden St. Some councillors also suggested it was not just cars to blame, but also cyclists. Councillors Gaile Noonan, Mike Rutledge, and deputy mayor Paul Matheson voted against the closure.

But Dominic says if the move stops one more kid going to hospital then it is worth trying.

“I just hope there’s not another accident before they put it in.”

The public will be notified in advance of the changes being made, but the trial closure is likely to begin in October.