Clutha District Council is inviting the public to let it know their preferred option for future traffic flow through Balclutha, ahead of a major upgrade of the town's main street planned for later this year.
Manager District Assets Jules Witt said that for a number of years, there had been debate about whether the existing arrangement of a State Highway on Clyde Street and two heavy traffic bypasses provides the best outcome for Balclutha.
The current State Highway designation significantly restricts what improvements Council can make to the Balclutha main street. Just as importantly, the positioning of the State Highway has implications well into the future for infrastructure in the town and where development can take place.
In August 2010, Council consulted on eight options for the location of State Highway 1. The results of that consultation favoured maintaining the status quo, with moving the State Highway to either Charlotte Street or James Street as the highest ranking alternatives.
Mr Witt said Council had recently undertaken a study comparing the advantages and disadvantages, as well as the economic and social implications, of the status quo with the two other options. A table summarising this is outlined below.
The study highlighted a number of factors to consider in deciding which is the best option, including who and how the people and businesses in Balclutha, as well as road users, would be affected by any changes.
The study also outlines the implications of the different traffic flow options on the future upgrade options for Clyde Street
Mr Witt said Council's ability to carry out any improvements to Clyde Street is currently significantly limited because of its State Highway designation.
This means that any alterations to State Highway must be approved by the New Zealand Transport Agency. The Agency's guidelines are focused in establishing the benefit cost ratio for a project from a roading perspective, not the implications of roading changes to the economic wellbeing of a community.
Mr Witt said it was important to note that Council has not yet made any decisions about which option it prefers and public feedback on the preferred option will help form Council's decision.
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