Banora Point residents demand answers over Fraser Drive delays

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SEVERAL BANORA Point residents have called on Tweed Shire Council to alleviate traffic congestion on Fraser Drive, after reports that vehicles are being held up for almost five minutes at temporary traffic lights.

Council has been negotiating with Hutchinson Builders since May 2016 at the northern end of Fraser Drive, where a new development is nearing completion.

Banora Point local Arthur Akehurst spoke to The Weekly recently and said the delays were leading to illegal driving including several cars jumping the gutter to bypass the lights and avoid delays.

“I’ve been monitoring these lights for several weeks and the delays can be up to five minutes or more, which doesn’t sound like a lot but try sitting behind a red light for that long – it quickly adds up,” he said.

“I think the council needs to apply pressure on the building company to rectify this issue and ensure traffic moves more efficiently.”

To find out more about the Fraser Drive traffic lights, The Weekly spoke to Tweed Shire Council’s Communications Officer of Corporate Services, Planning & Economic Development Chris Kimball.

Mr Kimball said council has been negotiating with Hutchinson Builders in order to ensure the traffic lights are performing as efficiently as possible “and to encourage them to complete the works as a matter of priority.”

“Council takes concerns from the community seriously and has taken feedback from community members directly to Hutchinson’s on numerous occasions (as recently as this week) and has, within its authority, pushed for Hutchinson’s to take action as a matter of urgency,” he said.

“The pressure from Council has already resulted in some adjustments to the phasing (timing) of the traffic lights but the real issue is the length of the work site and the requirement to ensure that cyclists can safely traverse between the two sets of lights.”

Mr Kimball said council had requested that Hutchinson’s use traffic controllers during many verbal conversations.

“However, Hutchinson’s are not obligated to provide traffic controllers nor are they willing to engage them as it would result in increased costs,” he said.

Mr Kimball said in response to council’s most recent representation (Tuesday, October 4) which included community concerns, Hutchinson’s replied: “Currently the lights are set at the minimum to allow traffic to clear for the distance between the lights, obviously the third set in Sullivan’s access adds additional waiting time and when the locals see no movements from that access most of the time it gives the perception they are waiting for nothing,” a spokesperson for Hutchinson’s Builders said.

“Hutchinson’s understands the frustration of the local community as they have been held up on the Fraser Drive project for various reasons.

“Going forward in the short term Hutchinson’s requested to meet representatives from their traffic supplier to review the current set up onsite and will report back any amendments that can be made.

“They have programmed asphalt installation on the eastern side of the road for Monday/Tuesday next week (weather permitting) which will allow for two lanes of traffic to be restored at the end of each shift.”

Meanwhile, Mr Kimball said Hutchinson’s were complying with their obligations but the completion of the project had been anticipated for August this year.

“Please note that Hutchinson’s have not breached their conditions of consent, standards or policies in relation to traffic control along Fraser Drive,” he said.

“Council sought advice from Hutchinson Builders regarding the completion of works on Fraser Drive in July 2016. Hutchinson’s advised council that the works would be completed by August 2016. The works were not completed by August and council again enquired about the completion time.”

Mr Kimball said Hutchinson’s Builders representative Tim Williams said asphalt works on Fraser Drive will commence next week which will allow for Fraser Drive to be opened for two way traffic out of construction hours.

“Council will continue to press the contractor to use traffic controllers during working hours however the contractor is under no obligation to do so,” Mr Kimball said.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you use Fraser Drive? What’s the longest you’ve had to wait for the traffic lights? Send your thoughts and letters to editor@theweekly.net.au