Last week Council considered the future of the Hetana Street one-way trial that has been in place for the last six months. Councillors agreed that some of the safety improvements had been effective, but voted to investigate returning to a two-way traffic system.
The trial aimed to slow traffic through Hetana Street and improve safety and accessibility for pedestrians. It was clear through the community feedback that the raised pedestrian crossings had achieved this, but the benefits of the one-way system were less clear-cut.
A lack of tourist numbers due to the current COVID-19 environment meant the one-way system could not be properly tested. “We know how busy the town gets during certain times of the year and before the trial ended we’d have liked to have seen if the one-way system helped the flow of traffic around town during those peaks,” said Councillor Sue Whiting. “Unfortunately COVID-19's meant that hasn’t happened and it’s just one of those things that’s out of our control.”
The selection of materials and the installation methods for the one-way trial were designed to last the length of the trial. “What’s currently in place was not intended to be permanent. It’ll take a bit of planning to remove what’s there now and install any permanent safety features. But before we agree to go ahead with any changes the first step is to understand the cost.”
Returning Hetana Street to a two-way street could require other changes (such as moving the raised pedestrian crossings) to make sure the road is safe for both drivers and pedestrians. Council staff will be investigating the cost of returning to a two-way system, along with traffic slowing measures, and reporting back to Council for a final decision.
Funding towards this project was received from Waka Kotahi’s (NZ Transport Agency) Innovating Streets Programme, which aims to create safer and more vibrant streets for all ages and abilities.
You can find out more about the trial here.