One of the more obvious findings from the six week experimental traffic closure of the slip lane from Turret Road onto the bottom of 15th Avenue, is the need for traffic lights at Burrows Street.
The intersection needs traffic lights to help control the amount of traffic able to get out from Burrows Street onto 15th Avenue, says Tauranga City Council transportation manager Martin Parkes.
“When we closed that slip lane the same sort of behaviour then just transferred to Burrows Street, so people were letting other people out, which is having a knock on effect back up to the 15th/Fraser lights.
“So it just transferred that type of behaviour. It makes complete sense to put traffic lights there particularly with that commercial development going in there as well. There's going to be a lot more activity in that area which needs to be controlled.”
The current pedestrian lights will be removed and incorporated within the intersection traffic lights, says Martin. The question facing the council is when.
In the next financial year the council is widening 15th Avenue between Grace Road and Burrows Street.
Whether traffic lights will be installed as part of that work, or held off until later major works depends in part on the data amassed over the last six weeks.
They are in the process of analysing the data which will take a few weeks and from that determine what long term solutions might be developed for that area.
“It was a bit mixed really,” he says of the experiment.
“Sometimes the queues went back down Devonport Road, a lot further than we had anticipated. Then other days there was no queue at all. It was a bit odd really. There was no rhyme or reason to that particular pattern.”
Feedback from the community is mixed.
“We've had emails, phone calls, all that information sent back to us has been really useful,” says Martin.
“Some really like it, want to make it permanent straight away. Other people didn't like it at all, felt their journey had been disrupted and they wanted it sort of taken away within the first couple of weeks of it being there.
“The whole exercise was about information gathering, particularly that traffic data, it is really, really useful for us going forward.”
The council will be doing more community engagement probably February or March next year says Martin.
It will include the views of the people from the south western suburbs for which 15th Avenue is a major corridor; residents from, Maungatapu, Ohauiti, Welcome Bay.
The barriers across Turret Road were installed after Labour Weekend and had to be beefed up in the first week because people removed them in order to drive past.
The plastic water filled barriers were replaced by concrete ones which enabled the data gathering to proceed.
Drivers using Turret Road to avoid the traffic lights on 15th Avenue create a stuttering effect in the traffic flow because people driving south on 15th Avenue stop to let them in - even though entry from Turret Road is on a Give Way sign.