By Doug Laing
Napier's newest set of traffic lights is creating issues for motorists even before it's switched on.
But both Napier City Council and national highways manager Waka Kotahi NZTA are confident the lights and intersection in Taradale Rd, which is also part of State Highway 51, will not cause the problems being complained of, including possible back-up of traffic to a Hawke's Bay Expressway roundabout.
The lights are being put in to facilitate an entrance to a new 16-shop development, billed as a "trade hub", on 1.9ha which was formerly the site of Placemakers and Palmers Garden Centre towards the Expressway end of an Onekawa industrial district block bounded by Taradale Rd and Edmundson and Niven Sts.
The two-way public entrance is being lined up with Trinity Cr, off the opposite side of Taradale Rd and a residential street commonly used as a cross-town access to Kennedy Rd.
Traffic signals will control through-traffic on Taradale Rd, traffic turning into the shopping centre across Taradale Rd's eastbound lane and all traffic in and out of Trinity Cr, but there will be free-turns for eastbound traffic turning into and out of the shopping centre.
The signals will also have dedicated pedestrian crossing facilities.
Heavy vehicle service access to the site, which will have 193 customer parking spaces and 40 cycle stands, will be from an upgraded two-way vehicle crossing off Edmundson St.
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Papers at the Napier City Council say applicants Goldroy Holdings consulted with the council and NZTA about access to Taradale Rd for the development, and received written approval from NZTA.
A report on wider transport network impacts says NZTA and the council's traffic engineers consider the signalised intersection will operate well during evening commuter peak hour and Saturday peak hour.
While traffic engineers advise that a shift towards high intensity retail would not achieve the good network performance expected in reports, the NZTA provided written approval.
Engineers considered that traffic generated by the development would be "easily absorbed" into the wider transportation network and was not expected to generate any operational or safety problems in the area, and that the local area will benefit from the provision of new pedestrian crossing facilities.