After protesting down Tahunanui Drive earlier this year, the local community has won its battle to have the clearway outside four businesses removed.
The layout of the intersection on State Highway 6 has been a major issue for business owners and residents who said the clearways at the traffic lights raised significant safety concerns and made access to shops difficult.
Last week the New Zealand Transport Agency and Nelson City Council agreed to a moratorium of four years on the use of the southbound clearway meaning it will become full time car parking until revisited in 2017.
It has also made the decision to make the north side, which operated as a part-time clearway in peak hours and car parking at all other hours, a left turn only lane.
Concerns were made in August during a mass protest, calling for the authorities to relook at the intersection. They have been addressed by both NZTA and NCC, who say the clearway was originally introduced to assist with the ongoing traffic issue at the intersection during afternoon peak travel times, however they now acknowledge the clearway has also caused a safety concern for users of the car parks and merging traffic.
Mayor Rachel Reese, who supported the community’s concerns prior to being elected, says she is pleased with the agreement because safety issues have been a high priority.
“Tahunanui residents and customers of the local shops have expressed concerns about safety for some time and I’ve been troubled about the configuration of the highway at this junction and how it’s used by motorists and pedestrians. The moratorium is a good solution that gives everyone a chance to take a break and reflect on what will be best for the local community and for commuters for the long-term.”
Tahunanui Community Centre spokesperson Judy Robinson says the community now believes they have “been heard” by the council and NZ Transport Agency following the community march and public forum held earlier this year. “We are delighted to know people will soon have a safer intersection and have safer access to essential services.”
Harley’s Pharmacy owner Andrew Harley says the removal of the clearway has made a major difference and his customers are particularly happy, especially the elderly. “The major problem was always safety. People were using the clearway as the race track of Tahunanui.”
He says he’s noticed a few people ignoring the arrow but said the quick response from all involved was fantastic.
Nelson City Council will be working on a long-term parking solution for the Tahunanui commercial area.