Bray Street fix? Third lane plan could ease traffic flow problem
By DAVID MOASE
TO local motorists, it is simply referred to as 'Bray Street', but with school holidays arriving on Friday, drastic steps are being taken to help ease one of the Mid North Coast's worst traffic black spots. Faced with customers being scared off by the endless delays that have become a regular occurrence at the Bray Street and Pacific Highway intersection during peak times, business owners have joined with Coffs Harbour City Council and the RTA in order to keep traffic flowing. Traffic controllers will be employed during the school holidays in an attempt to sort out the gridlock nightmare and, in a move destined to anger some motorists, right turns out of the Bray Street complex will be banned. Cars entering and exiting the complex will be guided by the traffic controllers at the busiest times of the day. The plans for the impending school holidays are, according to deputy mayor Cr Ian Hogbin, the first step in dealing with the traffic chaos known as Bray Street. They will be followed early next year by the widening of Bray Street to include a third lane. "This is a difficult problem and this is just the first step," Cr Hogbin said. "We are not going to solve it with this step but with commitment from all parties. "What we say to the users of this complex, who have been afraid of coming here during the holiday period, is 'come back because we are working on a solution'." The school-holiday traffic-control measures will apply each Tuesday and Wednesday from 11.30am to 3.30pm and from Thursday to Sunday between 11.30am and 6.30pm, although the times and days may vary depending on traffic flow. They will come into effect from Saturday. Drivers leaving the complex who would normally turn right into Bray Street will have have two choices during these periods. They are: ? head north along the Pacific Highway to the Arthur Street roundabout and return to the Bray Street intersection, or; ? head south along the highway and use other routes, such as Argyle Street and Bailey Avenue, to head west. According to Ross Taylor, the managing director of the cinema centre at Bray Street, the traffic changes aim to overcome two major problems. "One is the lack of capacity of the (Bray Street/Pacific Highway) intersection," he said. "Bray Street takes a huge amount of traffic but there are only two lanes ? (the complex) didn't cause that, it's a problem of the whole road system. "The problem for the site is that traffic can't get in or out, and only at certain times of the day and certain times of the year. "It is not a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week problem but a specific problem at specific times. "Having traffic controllers addresses that problem directly and it can be adjusted according to that problem." Mr Taylor said work would be carried out within the complex to make it more user-friendly for motorists. Widening of Bray Street to incorporate a third lane for vehicles turning left on to the highway will begin on February 1, 2005, and is designed to finish by the Easter school holidays. Cr Hogbin said the work could not be done before the Christmas holidays without 'significant risk of traffic chaos over Christmas'.