October WMRA meeting recap
This was a key meeting for the future of West Melton regarding incoming changes to the SH73 road corridor through the town. This meeting was dominated by discussion with Selwyn District Council’s transportation asset manager Andrew Mazey, who presented the corridor management plan which will soon be put forward for adoption.
Andrew gave some background to the process, describing several driving factors including the new development of the Wilson block. Andrew pointed out the ’30-section trigger’ where at the current district plan, a SH73 underpass connecting Gainsborough and Wilfield would otherwise need to be constructed. Andrew talked about how he’d personally pushed for an underpass, preferring an option where the underpass was located near to the community centre, but the planning commissioner had disallowed this. Andrew had been working on the new plan for some two years now. His driving question was; “What can we do right through the length of highway in West Melton to make it safer and more effective”.
Speed limit moves east
The existing 70 km/h speed zone would be extended to the east. Doing so allows room for more crossing points. Removing hedges and embankments will create a better sense of urban space, better reinforcing the set speed zone and setting the environment to have the speed limit reduced further to 60 km/h at a later stage.
Pavements reaching further to the East and West from Weedons Ross Road on both sides of the road, along with flush medians and several ‘pedestrian refuge’ crossing points will all act to slow traffic and establish West Melton as a properly formed town on SH73. Four pedestrian islands would be formed in total, two to the East and two to the West of Weedons Ross Road.
Andrew indicated how NZTA considers that the intersection of Weedons Ross Road and SH73 would eventually be redesigned to become a traffic-light controlled intersection. The timeframe for this is unsure, but may coincide with the completion stage two of the Christchurch Southern Motorway, considering an increase in link traffic between SH1 and SH73 on Weedons Ross Road. A light controlled crossing at Weedons Ross Road should be able to carry pedestrian crossing points as well. This intersection is currently graded as “B”, a scale which runs from A – F based on traffic queue length and times.
Andrew took a myriad of questions from his audience including queries about future plans for the main intersection in town, options for reducing the speed further, progress with commercial developments in West Melton and options for the community to engage with the plan itself. Kea Crossings near the school were also discussed as was speed outside the WM domain, courtesy squares through the intersection of West Melton and Weedons Ross Road and installing speed indicator signs at key points.
Reception from the audience was overly negative, with many people wishing that more was being done to address safety. Residents wanted to see slower traffic speeds, light-controlled crossing points or separated crossings such as underpasses constructed. After much discussion it was clear that this is mostly under NZTA’s control and the community will likely have to accept this phased approach, where SH73 must become more urbanised before other desired changes can be justified. In this light, the proposed changes are a good step in that direction. Chairman Jeff thanked Andrew on behalf of the committee for taking the time to respond to our letter and come to present this draft plan.
Bruce confirmed this evening how the ‘battle was lost’ and the Community Board will go. It will be disestablished in October 2016.
Floor plans for the proposed new West Melton Community Centre were shown at this meeting. The site of the new building will be adjacent to the existing Community Centre on SH73. Bruce reported how the site is now pegged out and the tendering process will begin in November. Bruce talked about the need to fundraise and seek grants in the near future. The community centre plans will go out in the next West Melton News.
The next WMRA meeting in December will be a short meeting so we can ‘go next door’ and celebrate the year, especially the efforts of our outgoing Secretary Sarah Beattie. Thank you Sarah for all your work over the last few years.