ROADWORKS and the closure of Otatara’s main access to Invercargill has caused concern and angst among members of the community.
The Invercargill City Council (ICC) is set to start work to upgrade the Stead St Stopbank on Monday, resulting in important changes to traffic flow in the area for about six months.
People will be able to travel from central Invercargill to Otatara via Stead St – but people in Otatara who want to get to Invercargill will have to do so via Otatara and Bay Rds.
Many residents have criticised the decision and a post on social media attracted hundreds of comments.
Professionals real estate agent and auctioneer Tim Frampton was among those concerned about the potential impact the works would have in his community.
He has been living in the area for about 20-odd years and said the closure of the main road would be very disruptive.
“There are 1185 dwellings out here, approximately 4400 people, 2000 car movements going in [to Otatara] and 2000 going out in a day. It is one of the busiest roads in Invercargill.
“We have surgeons, nurses and health workers who have to be on call 24/7 and they have to be there, in the hospital, within 20 minutes from the call.
“This will not happen if they need to go through this new route,” he said.
Mr Frampton said ICC did not consult with the community about reducing the road to a single lane.
PowerNet had recently finished work to remove the power poles from the bank on the same stretch of road, and they managed to keep the traffic flowing through two lanes, he said.
“There was no problem. [It had] Great traffic management. I can’t see why it can’t be done that way.
“It is just too hard and they really need to look at themselves and think about what they are trying to achieve here.”
During an ICC meeting this week, Cr Allan Arnold, who also lives in Otatara, shared the community’s feelings about the upgrade.
ICC manager engineering services Jeremy Rees said the Stead St Stopbank Upgrade was a key climate resilience project which would see a reinforcement of the stopbank with a sheet pile wall.
He said to complete this work, large cranes and machinery would need to be placed directly on the road.
“For context, the width of the roadway along Stead St is approximately 11 metres, the crane is about 6 metres wide and requires at least another 1 metre to ensure it can be safely fenced off from the traffic.
“We have already widened the road to allow for one lane of traffic and a 1.5m shared pedestrian and cycleway.”
He said, unfortunately, it was not possible to widen the road further because of the geometry and underlying ground conditions.
The shared pedestrian and cycle pathway was part of the Te Araroa trail and, under the Code of Practice for Temporary Traffic Management, ICC must provide a safe alternative route.
It would be temporarily relocated to the north side of the road while these works were undertaken, Mr Rees said.
daily routines for Otatara residents and those that frequently use this road to access Sandy Point and Oreti Beach.
“We have undertaken considerable investigation into the traffic management options, and it is important that we ensure traffic flow allows emergency services to reach Otatara and the airport as quickly as possible, and that we can maintain consistent access from the city to the airport.”
Mr Rees said, in the past, when ICC put stop/go traffic systems in this area, there had been a considerable amount of traffic backed up to the Bond St roundabout and beyond, impacting the wider traffic flow in the city.
The stopbank had not been upgraded since its construction in the early 1900s, he said.
“The consequences of not undertaking this work are significant, including potential loss of the stopbank, the road and surrounding land, including the Invercargill Airport.”
ICC will hold a drop-in session at the Otatara Community Hall between 5.30pm and 7pm today to discuss the stopbank upgrade.
Otatara residents were welcome to come along to meet the team and key people involved in the project.
Covid-19 restrictions would be in place, but there would be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and air concerns, an ICC spokeswoman said.