Traffic lights versus roundabouts have been up for debate at a Whanganui District Council meeting, and senior roading engineer Brent Holmes is firmly in favour of the lights.
When the subject of traffic lights came up at February's infrastructure committee meeting, councillor Graeme Young said he hoped Holmes would minimise the number. He said the travelling public preferred roundabouts.
There are 12 sets of traffic lights in Whanganui. They are all being replaced with new and more advanced equipment that monitors traffic and relays information to the Wellington Traffic Operations Centre.
Temporary roundabouts are installed while the traffic lights are not working.
Many drivers might think roundabouts were better, Holmes said, because they were not used by buses and heavy traffic.
But he said getting people from A to B as fast as possible was not his primary concern. Instead, intersections were designed to cater for the safety of vulnerable people: pedestrians, the elderly, children and people on mobility scooters.
Waka Kotahi/NZ Transport Agency has safety as its top priority, and it funds 61 per cent of the cost of upgrades.
Vulnerable people were unable to safely and confidently cross at a roundabout, and signalised intersections were safer for them, Holmes said.
"I would rather people take a little bit more time to go across town and save five lives every year," he said.
The Heads Rd/Beach Rd intersection is getting a $600,000 upgrade.
The layout of the intersection would not be changed, Holmes said, but the pavement that took the heaviest traffic would be strengthened.
It had been suggested a roundabout be installed there, but its $1.8 million cost didn't stack up against benefit, and Waka Kotahi would not fund it.
In other roading news, the Fitzherbert Ave extension was "building an arterial road through a swamp", Holmes said. Pumps are pulling water out of the soil, and sending it into the stormwater system.
The 2018 dropout at Jerusalem on the Whanganui River Rd must be repaired before July, or it will lose its Waka Kotahi funding.
Kings Ave residents took a petition to the council, asking for traffic calming in their street.
The street was used by boy racers, Holmes said, but most drivers kept to the speed limit and no intervention was justified.
"In any given place there will be a small proportion of idiots," he said.