Traffic congestion in Coffs Harbour
Traffic congestion in Coffs Harbour Trevor Veale

Seeing red at lights

WHAT happens at a pedestrian crossing when the little guy goes green? If you're at the Harbour Drive Pacific Highway intersection you don't walk. You "weave" your way between bonnets and exhaust pipes through bumper to bumper traffic blocking the intersection while drivers avert their eyes and pretend this is normal.

Unfortunately it is normal for the holiday season. With no start on the bypass for Coffs Harbour until at least 2020, and an estimated two to three-year completion schedule, it will be about 2024 before trucks and holiday traffic are even close to being diverted from the centre of town.

It's not just pedestrians feeling frustrated trying to cross the highway during this time of year.

Stuck in a queue at Bray St, Orlando St or West High St waiting for that green light only to see three cars cross the highway in a three- second window before the light changes has had more than a few drivers seeing red.

So what's the "temporary" solution to the holiday traffic crawl that sometimes starts at Bunnings and continues to the Bray St intersection?

Roads and Maritime Services has been actively monitoring and adjusting traffic light phasing through Coffs Harbour these holidays, during which there has been a peak of about 38,000 vehicles a day.

While many locals have conspiracy theories on the timing of the traffic lights and some talk longingly about the one time they got a "dream run" of all greens, it's a lot more complicated than flicking a switch.

"A range of factors including traffic volumes, delays and travel times, time and day as well as holidays and special events are considered when determining the phasing of traffic lights," a spokesperson from Roads and Maritime Services said.

"Priority has been given to Pacific Highway traffic due to the high volumes and delays experienced elsewhere on the road network, enabling motorists to move through Coffs Harbour with delays of less than 10 minutes."

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