Fearn opening up in air

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Concerns have been raised about the safety of opening Fearn Avenue to vehicles.
Camera IconConcerns have been raised about the safety of opening Fearn Avenue to vehicles.

The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River is awaiting new retractable bollards before it goes ahead with reopening Fearn Avenue, but is still considering keeping the new festival precinct closed for good.

Many business operators want the redeveloped space as a permanent town square, with last Friday’s street party an eye-opening look at the strip’s potential.

Serious safety concerns also exist about the precinct, with Margaret River Chamber of Commerce president Melissa d’Ath leading the charge to keep the planned one-way street shut.

“We have had quite a few main street businesses raise concerns about the safety of opening Fearn Avenue to vehicles,” she told the Times.

“We would like to see, with proper consultation of surrounding businesses, this section remain pedestrian-only — not just for safety, but for the community.”

Shire sustainable development and infrastructure director Nick Logan said traffic analysis was needed before any firm decision could be made.

“Fearn Avenue will be opened as shared space, the performance of the area monitored, and further detailed traffic modelling undertaken once traffic flows have normalised,” he said.

“This will enable the consequential effects of permanent closure to be understood, including the potential for congestion at other intersections and to enable planning for future intersection treatments.”

Shire president Ian Earl said the street party had showed the benefits of pedestrianisation, but there were several factors to consider.

“Keeping Fearn Avenue closed would be a great idea,” he said.

“However, there are some parking issues for businesses that front it to be sorted.” 

He said it would be good to use the space for community events throughout the year.

Last week, the Times reported a Shire push to reduce the Bussell Highway speed limit to 40km/h.

Workers inspected street furnishings and kerbs this week amid ongoing concerns about pedestrians and drivers causing damage.

Mr Logan said the new parking bays were longer, at 7m, than previous bays, and designed square to protect garden beds.

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