North End business owners are taking a wait-and-see approach to a signalised pedestrian crossing to be installed at the current site of a troublesome zebra crossing this month.
The new pedestrian signals are designed to improve safety on the section of State Highway One between Frome St and Farnham St at Oamaru’s North End and should be in operation by the end of February.
New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) senior safety engineer Roy Johnston said the project, which will cost $100,000, was an upgrade of the current pedestrian crossing where there had been frequent near-misses and vehicles failing to stop for pedestrians.
“Local businesses and community were consulted on the changes and agreement reached regarding the layout of the signals and the impact on parking.”
Arthurs Antiques is located directly opposite the site of the new crossing. Owner Tim Arthur is not convinced lights are going to solve the problem of the speeding vehicles he sees on a daily basis.
“I’ve got mixed views. Most businesses here think it should have been put further down the road on the corner of Frome St, State Highway One and Caledonian Rd.
“It’s a speed issue going down this road. I don’t think the lights are going to make an ounce of difference.
“But let’s hope it does improve things … it will be interesting to see how it works out over the next few months.
“It’s a start.”
Frasers Four Square owner Brain Fraser shared similar views.
“I, like a lot of others, would have liked to see the lights go on the Frome St corner. But it wasn’t to be.
“You’ve just got to put up with what they’ve done. What we say now really doesn’t matter.”
While not happy with the location of the new crossing, both Mr Arthur and Mr Fraser are pleased they will not be losing any car parks.
The NZTA’s initial plans meant up to four car parks, two in each side of the highway, would be lost.
“No car parks are going. They were going to take out four at one stage, but to their credit they did listen.”
As well as being opposed to potentially losing car parks, Mr Fraser said several businesses were also against work starting before Christmas and was happy the NZTA listened to their concerns and delayed the project by several weeks.
“We didn’t want it to happen then. For that, you really have to thank them … it would have caused havoc.”
The NZTA said work to prepare for underground ducting to carry cabling to the new signals will start on Monday.
By Daniel Birchfield