Ease traffic congestion or make the road safer?
That's the choice Tauranga city councillors will have to weigh up when it comes to the future of Greerton's roading layout.
The Greerton Village Project Review was presented to Tauranga City Council this week following controversy at traffic safety improvements which some locals labelled a "nightmare".
Consultant Derek McCoy told elected members since the traffic changes were introduced last year, traffic through Greerton reduced by up to 12 per cent in the mornings and up to 18 per cent in the evenings.
"That indicates the level of capacity that may have been lost. We have to account that people might have adapted in different ways and changed their routes, changed their modes [of transport]. Nevertheless, this has had a significant impact in Greerton," McCoy said.
McCoy reviewed the project and offered several recommendations, including relocating the pedestrian crossing to its previous location and reinstating two-lane entries to the Cameron Rd and Chadwick Rd roundabout. Potentially reopening a right turn for Cornwall St traffic at Cameron Rd was another option, but that could impact traffic on Cameron Rd, he said.
He said there were certain "trade-offs" that the council would need to decide on. By reinstating two-lane entries at the roundabout, it reduced the intersection's safety but made it more efficient, potentially helping alleviate congestion.
McCoy stressed that any recommendation should be considered in line with long-term planning and the potential impact on the city's wider transport network.
"My advice would be to look forward."
Greerton Village Community Association manager Sally Benning said several Cameron Rd businesses had closed down since construction began on the project in April last year.
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"From a business point of view, many of them just want it fixed. They don't really care how but having said that, I think they have got to be made aware of what the implications will be again."
Councillors agreed, with a unanimous vote to consult with businesses and people travelling through Greerton on the council's next steps.
Councillor Larry Baldock, who travelled through the village every day, said it was important to avoid a "knee-jerk reaction" and to take time to adopt a longer-term view which could include multi-modal options such as buses and bikes.
Mayor Greg Brownless said talking of modal shift was fine enough but the council had to do something to ease the congestion.
"It was our commitment at the time that congestion would not be worse. It's worse, therefore we have to find a solution," he said.
"Safety is all very well, it's a good thing, but I want some efficiency as well. I'm looking for something we can do to really keep our commitment."
In Greerton village yesterday, McCoy's findings were welcomed.
Sherson St resident Phil Heys said alleviating the congestion was better than leaving the village as it was. Congestion had become much worse than before the project, he said.
Heys made a point of using the pedestrian crossing without pressing the button "because I don't want to hold up traffic any more than what it already is".
"Traffic gets backed up all the way down there and all the way up here," he said gesturing to the length of Cameron Rd.
"I feel sorry for drivers. I can't believe how congested it has become."
Greerton Lotto's Tom Walsh said he felt the changes had done more damage than good.
"We've been here for years and years and have never really seen any real accident. Maybe the odd cyclist gets knocked off but you get that at any intersection.
"They've compromised the flow of traffic to make it safer. But doing that, they made it more congested, which has made it unsafe."
Walsh said people still crossed the road in front of cars at the old pedestrian crossing site and there was more chance of nose-to-tails.
Resident Adrienne France said she would also like to see a reversal of the project.
"I don't know if it is any safer. I just crossed the pedestrian crossing and people aren't even waiting for it to go green and it's just too close to the roundabout."
More light has been shed on Tauranga City Council's justification behind overhauling Greerton's road layout for safety reasons.
Since last year, the council defended the need for the Greerton traffic safety improvements because the intersection of Cameron Rd and Chadwick Rd was too dangerous. In 2018, the council stated there had been 70 crashes in the area in the past five years.
Data obtained by the Bay of Plenty Times shows only 17 of the 70 were injury crashes. These included incidents on Greerton Rd, Cornwall St and further along Chadwick Rd and Cameron Rd.
None of the crashes at the roundabout involved a cyclist and of the eight pedestrians that were hit, two were hit at the roundabout.
When a petition asking for corrective action and signed by hundreds of upset Greerton residents was presented to the council in February, acting general manager of infrastructure Martin Parkes said alleviating congestion was not part of the goals his team were tasked with when given their brief to start the project.
When the council was asked, under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act, which elected members issued the brief to carry out the project, council's legal and risk services manager Nick Swallow said no attendance record or notes were taken at this meeting.