John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Road-noise complaint ignites debate

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Paul Gregory wants road authorities to remedy the pedestrian traffic signals through the shopping centre so over-sized truck loads can go straight through. Photo / Andrew Warner
Paul Gregory wants road authorities to remedy the pedestrian traffic signals through the shopping centre so over-sized truck loads can go straight through. Photo / Andrew Warner

A Bethlehem pensioner's dogged campaign to fix the cause of his sleepless nights could be on track to a solution.

Paul Gregory, a resident of Kempton Park Retirement Village, said he was constantly disturbed in the "wee small hours" by trucks carrying over-sized loads negotiating the corner of Te Paeroa and Carmichael roads.

He was the victim of house removers and haulers of other large loads saying they were unable to go straight ahead at the roundabouts at each end of the Bethlehem shops. Instead they have for years taken an unofficial bypass via Carmichael Rd, a route which took them close to Mr Gregory's home.

His patience ran out last August when he asked the Tauranga City Council to address the problems caused by the bypass.

A state highway should be designed to carry heavy and over-dimensional traffic. It's utterly ludicrous to have two large roundabouts in a short distance and two sets of traffic lights in between.
Paul Gregory

"We have endured five loads in the past six days," Mr Gregory said.

Apart from the constant disturbance, he said the trucks were damaging the road and traffic islands.

"There is also a safety risk, identified one night when the house being transported parted company with the vehicle.

"A state highway should be designed to carry heavy and over-dimensional traffic. It's utterly ludicrous to have two large roundabouts in a short distance and two sets of traffic lights in between."

His campaign has included talking to the council, the New Zealand Heavy Haulage Association and using the Official Information Act to obtain information from the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Heavy Haulage Association chief executive Jonathan Thomson said the problem was created years ago when the highway was rebuilt past the shops.

Read more: Daily battle after crash changes life

He said they tried to get design changes so over-dimension loads could go straight ahead at the shops but roading authorities pushed ahead anyway. It meant that larger over-dimensional loads could not fit between the pedestrian crossing fences and overhead lights. There was only enough of a gap for smaller over-dimension loads to squeeze through.

"That is how they ended up with this result."

Operators told him that they had no option but to use the bypass. "It is a real shame they are disturbing residents."

Mr Thomson said the council could do some simple things to substantially reduce the use of the bypass, like creating a mountable curb on traffic islands and making all road signs removable. Alternatively, the transport agency could change the traffic signals so big loads could fit through.

He said the issue had taken a while to reach public attention but it had created the opportunity for dialogue with the council and the agency. "Hopefully we will at least get a short to medium-term solution. Residential areas should not expect to have big loads directed through them."

Council transport manager Martin Parkes said it was true there were obstructions along the designated route for over-dimension loads. "However, the pedestrian traffic signals and barriers either fold down or are removable and have been specifically designed in this manner to facilitate the passage of over-dimension loads along this section of SH2."

He said they would be having discussions with the Heavy Haulage Association.

Roger Vincent of House Transporters said it was the overhead lights that were the problem, with the big ones unable to be swung back because they were bolted so tight. "You'd have to get a crane in there."

And higher loads could not be lifted up over barriers because it put them at a height where they hit lights.

Going along the wrong side of the road past the shops created its own set of problems, including sending all other heavy traffic around the bypass while over-dimension loads went through, he said, creating more problems than it solved.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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