BATTLE LINES DRAWN

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Margaret River main street
PIC : Derek Pool
Camera IconMargaret River main street PIC : Derek Pool

The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River says many of the changes coming to the town’s main street during next year’s redevelopment are about future-proofing Margaret River for incoming technology and seizing the chance to make the strip more pedestrian-friendly and safer for residents and visitors.

The insights come after last week’s heated annual electors’ meeting during which some of the main street’s biggest traders backed a call to revise the construction tender, amend car parking numbers and strip Shire chief executive Stephanie Addison-Brown of delegated powers around parking and streetscaping details, all of which were unanimously rejected by six councillors.

The council moved instead that it was “satisfied that the CEO’s current community engagement model for the implementation of the project is satisfactory and will enable community input into variations”.

But traders continued their criticism, saying presentation of detailed streetscape plans this week came too late in the process (see sidebar).

Ms Addison-Brown, who started in July, stood by predecessor Gary Evershed’s work.

“The project is a result of extensive community consultation over several years and is going to result in a highly attractive, welcoming and accessible centre of town that we can really enjoy and be proud of,” she said this week.

Pedestrians, cyclists and motorists would all benefit from the upgrade, which included more landscaping, shade trees and seating, she said, as well as the long-desired new festival precinct on Fearn Avenue, which would become a one-way route.

The Shire rejected claims traffic analysis was not carried out modelling how buses and heavy vehicles would exit Charles West Avenue once Fearn Avenue was no longer an option. n“The Shire engaged GHD Pty Ltd Traffic Engineering Consultants to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the main street project,” Ms Addison-Brown said.

She said heavy vehicles would travel south on Fearn Avenue towards Wallcliffe Road or drive north on Charles West Avenue and enter Bussell Highway via Tunbridge Street.

The proposed “peanut-about” for the Tunbridge Street intersection also copped flak last week from architect and ex-councillor Linton Hodsdon. But Ms Addison-Brown said it was chosen after a circular roundabout proved unfeasible.

“The intersection is constrained by private landholdings and significant above-ground and underground services,” she said. The peanut-about would reduce vehicle speeds, make crossing safer for pedestrians, and reduce the severity of crashes, she said, and the latest design was “rigorously tested”.

“A conventional roundabout would require extensive land acquisitions, costly relocation of services, and realignment of roads,” the chief said.

Mr Hodsdon told the Times he had sketched a redesign that would save parking bays and avoid difficulties for bigger vehicles.

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