Residents want quiet neighbourhood back as commuters use Avenues as bypass

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Phil Green, spokesman for the Avenues residents association, says there are a raft of concerns regarding traffic in the Avenues. Photo/George Novak

By Allison Hess

Once quiet, the Avenues have turned into a busy bypass with drivers using the side streets to avoid traffic snarl ups on Fraser St and Fifteenth Ave, say residents.

The increased traffic has stirred the 400-strong residents' association into action, discussing alternatives to get their neighbourhood back.

Neighbourhood Residents Association spokesman Phil Green said residents were concerned about safety and traffic volumes and were searching for "common-sense answers".

"Even though Tauranga is a growing city the people in the Avenues shouldn't have to have traffic volumes increase through our residential streets because there hasn't been any infrastructural planning."

Every weekday there was a double-whammy of traffic. Adding to the mad rush of parents picking up and dropping off their children were commuters using Harvey St, Thirteenth Ave and Fourteenth Ave as "an expressway" to bypass the main arterial roads.

"There are a few judder bars but it's not slowing traffic down and what used to be quiet Avenue streets are seeing an increase in the volume of traffic which is a safety concern for school children walking home," Mr Green, who lived on Sixteenth Ave, said.

One of the solutions being explored by the residents' association was one-laned Avenue streets.

"It might help alleviate commuter traffic ducking down, because if they can't go down from Fraser St to Turret Rd using the Avenues they will have to stick to main arterial routes."

Mr Green said the association would work with council and the transit agency on how commuter and school traffic were operating and look for a better alternative to make it safer and maintain amenities.

St Mary's Catholic School principal Ben Fuller said he had noticed an increase in speedy commuters using Thirteenth Ave to escape congestion on Fraser St and Fifteenth Ave.

"The issue for us is those peak times are when kids are heading into school."

Mr Fuller had seen the issue as the main arterial routes unable to cope with traffic volumes but said he would support any traffic safety initiative, such as one-laning some Avenue streets.

As traffic volumes grew around his school he thought it might be time to look at moderation measures.

Currently there were no signs warning of a school zone or to slow down to 40km/h.

Tauranga City Council transport manager Martin Parkes said the traffic situation in the area was "not ideal".

Since taking on responsibility for Fifteenth Ave and Turret Rd in 2015 the council had been reviewing traffic data and design options for potential road upgrades.

"We don't want to trade one problem for another in other parts of the road network."

When asked about a potential one-way system Mr Parkes said it could place unnecessary pressure on other parks of the roading network and the council would need to do more traffic modelling before taking the suggestion further.

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