A report into Nelson’s traffic woes has frustrated both the Tahunanui and Victory communites.
The New Zealand Transport Agency’s investigation into the region’s traffic problems was released last Wednesday, a fortnight after the National party pledged to build the Southern Link within three years if it was re-elected.
The “link” would run from St Vincent St down the railway reserve in Nelson south and hook up to Whakatu Drive in Annesbrook at a cost of $130 million.
The report recommends “a range of interim measures” on Tahunanui and Annesbrook Drives and Waimea Rd to reduce peak period journey times until a new route is needed, which it suggests will be in the early 2030s.
These include adding a northbound clearway between the Annesbrook roundabout and Bisley Ave and having two southbound lanes through the Bisley Ave lights.
It also recommends clearways and intersection changes between The Ridgeway and Motueka St, enhancing public transport, further encouragement of peak hour walking and cycling, land use controls, parking restrictions, and even suggests a tunnel along the proposed Southern Link route.
But Rob Stevenson, chairman of the Tahunanui Business Association, says they are “very concerned” with the contents of the report.
He says the proposed interim measures are an “expensive bandaid” and will have “disastrous” effects on schools, residents and businesses in the Tahunanui, Annesbrook Dr and Waimea Rd communities.
“The proposed reinstatement of a second lane northbound at Bisley Ave, and its associated clearway, ignores the reasons why it was removed. It was highly unsafe with frequent near misses and accidents. This recommendation would decimate the businesses on this corner and lead to the destruction of the heart of the existing Tahunanui village.”
“From an engineering point of view they may speed up traffic flows on roads that are currently operating at peak capacity, but they are dangerous and insensitive to the communities that are presently shouldering the burden of these high volumes of traffic.”
He believes building a new arterial link with appropriate mitigation is the only “safe solution”.
But Guardians of Victory, a communication group which was originally set up by the NZTA as a means of “getting in touch” with the community on the road, says the report has many “ifs and buts” and leaves the impacts of the road on Victory “hanging and undiscussed”.
The group met last week and consists of Victory Primary, Auckland Point and Nelson Intermediate school principals, Victory Community Centre Board members, and is chaired by Dr John Moore, a Nelson City Council Regional Transport Committee member from 2003 to 2013.
John says the report does not add much to the arterial review of 2010, as well as ignoring the impacts of the road on Victory, such as air quality.
“There is very little new, it still says to try other things before we build the Southern Link,” he says.
“It is largely an engineering report, and entirely free from discussing the community impacts, so that’s a big hole. It tells us how to build it, but not how to live with it.”
“I’m no engineer, but there are lower impact ways of solving the problem. The benefits don’t relate to the costs, and I’m sure many would rather see the money spent on housing, education and healthcare.”
But he doesn’t want the issue to become an “us and them” thing.
“It is very divisive, but it’s no reason to put a road past a vulnerable community, three schools and a kindergarten. Moving the problem to a much more complex area just isn’t fair.”
Nelson mayor Rachel Reese is supportive building a new road