Contentious road to open

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
The festival precinct is set to re-open on Monday.
Camera IconThe festival precinct is set to re-open on Monday.

The Fearn Avenue festival precinct will be opened to crawling traffic on Monday, despite the protests of residents and some business owners.

Shire of Augusta-Margaret River chiefs have stressed the opening of the road, which will now be one-way off the main street — as always intended, under the main street redevelopment — was to test traffic flows and how it affected congestion in the town centre.

But residents have arced up on social media, with numerous ratepayers calling for the attractive paved public space to remain shut for good.

Worse, residents have cited ongoing and perceived unaddressed safety issues in the precinct as reason to change tack on the road plan.

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The route will open Monday morning with a 10km/h speed limit.

Retractable bollards were now in place to allow for future closures, which was the reason residents had acclimatised to the strip as a pedestrian walkway, Shire chief executive Stephanie Addison-Brown said.

“Now the bollards have been installed, vehicles will be allowed to drive through as originally intended and the area can be temporarily closed for special events,” she said.

“We know a number of people would like the Shire to keep this area for pedestrians only, after having experienced the space free of cars.

“However, this view is not shared by all segments of the community, especially businesses in the direct vicinity who have been impacted by lack of vehicle and delivery access.” While business operator Lloyd Shepherdson led the call last month for further changes to the precinct and associated roadworks, Margaret River Chamber of Commerce president Melissa d’Ath was among many prominent town business owners who want the area pedestrian-only. As reported previously by the Times, the Shire will study traffic flows before making further decisions, including whether “future intersection treatments” were needed.

“We ask drivers to keep to the speed limit and for people to give way to cars in this area as the town gets used to the one-way street,” Ms Addison-Brown said.

Since the main street reopened at Christmas, residents have repeatedly flagged Fearn Avenue and main street paving treatments as creating potentially dangerous confusion for motorists and pedestrians.

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