Traffic calming in a suburban street is hardly what you would consider an earth shattering issue, but it’s been causing great pain in one Hobart suburb.
On Monday night Alderman Marti Zucco took advantage of some vacancies from Hobart Council to push through yet another deferment of Council’s traffic calming plan for Waterworks Rd, even though this vote went against the express wishes of the committee chair, Ron Christie.
Christie himself is not happy; nor are Council staff who have spent 6 years of consultation work on this project.
Being a winding road with inadequate footpaths, Waterworks Rd is not a safe road on which to be a pedestrian or cyclist. Nearly 100 children live in the community, there is no school bus and nearly all children walk to school along the route, so parents have strong and genuine concerns about safety issues. Then there are the late night hoons who frequent the reserve.
Recognising this as a legitimate problem street, council engineers prepared a proposal for a series of speed cushions and council officers, to their credit, went overboard in their efforts to professionally consult with any interested parties.
The result: overwhelming support for the proposal. (A minority of motoring enthusiasts has objected, as is always the case with traffic calming in any setting.)
Monday’s vote being the nth deferment of this project, local residents are not only dismayed they are utterly astonished at the farcical series of decisions and reversals now confronting them. By now they have now received a series of official letters which contradict each other. This is not a billion dollar pulpmill at stake, it is a small fry day-to-day council decision that has been handled almost as ineptly as that famous larger one.
This issue, and its inept handling, has much more to do with the peculiar politics going on within Hobart council that it is to do with the pros and cons of installing a few speed cushions. At one point last year the issue got so bogged down a decision on it had to be signed off by the then DIER minister, Sturgess! For speed cushions in a suburban street!
This is hardly an issue to die over, but it is also like a miniature Copenhagen. If a local government body can not handle a basic decision to deliver the expressed wishes of a community how can the larger issues confronting society - like global climate change and peak oil - ever hope to be reconciled?
(For the record, the speed cushions have been presented as an interim measure, enabling Council to consider in the longer term more comprehensive and much more costly ‘streetscape’ solutions.)
You can read more on the Waterworks Valley community’s struggle to win approval for traffic calming measures here.