Business disquiet over Balclutha traffic flow options

Some Balclutha retailers are concerned about the effects on their businesses if traffic is diverted from the main street under options proposed yesterday by the Clutha District Council.

The council reopened public consultation yesterday on its traffic strategy, listing seven possible options for alternative routes through the town as part of its main street upgrade.

Public feedback on the upgrade during last year's long-term plan consultation process led the council to allocate a $2 million budget to upgrade the main street, set to take place in the 2011-12 financial year.

However, council chief executive Charles Hakkaart said before any upgrade took place, the council had to decide how heavy traffic and State Highway 1 traffic would flow through Balclutha.

Any changes to the state highway would have to be approved by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Clutha Mayor Juno Hayes said yesterday the council was looking at issues such as where heavy traffic was going to go and where to build a new bridge.

"It may take 10 to 20 years before this happens, but that's why we are putting it out there for consultation."

Shifting the state highway from Clyde St to either Charlotte or James Sts was first explored in a study in 2004.

The report writers then said a key issue was ensuring the economic viability of Clyde St businesses through new traffic management procedures.

Clyde St retailers the Otago Daily Times spoke to yesterday were concerned that filtering the traffic flow away from the town centre would discourage motorists from stopping.

Blondee hairdressing saloon owner Selena Aitken said diverting traffic would have a big effect on her business, as people driving off the bridge often stopped at her salon for a haircut.

Unichem Grays Pharmacy owner Daniel Haw said while the majority of his customers were local people, he would miss out on the tourists and visitors who stop in Balclutha to eat, and then shop.

The Chilly Bin owner, Ian Flint, said people would not stop to eat in Balclutha if traffic was rerouted.

"Personally, I think it would be disastrous for Rosebank. People will not stop to eat. They will do it in Milton, or drive on to Clinton. It would devastate this area."

Balclutha Farm Machinery manager Steve Ensor was the only retailer spoken to yesterday who was not particularly concerned by the proposal.

He said traffic flowing down Charlotte St would mean it was going to the back door instead of the front door.

Mr Hayes said while there was the perception that taking people off the main street would affect businesses, other towns had done things to make themselves a destination, and getting the heavy traffic out of the town centre might improve efficiency and make it a more pleasant place to be.

Add a Comment