People driving through Motueka during summer will finally be able to turn right with ease as the town’s first traffic lights have been switched on.
The traffic lights at the intersection of Pah St, Greenwood St, and High St became operational from Thursday morning.
A crowd of approximately 30 people were in attendance, including locals, families, retirees, and members of the community board.
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Retiree Muzz Gibbons said the new traffic lights were “brilliant.” He said from Labour Weekend onwards, traffic started to build up in Motueka and it was almost impossible to turn onto the main road.
“Don’t even think about turning right.”
Motueka Community Board chairman Brent Maru spoke highly of the pedestrain crossings that were also installed to improve safety.
Community board member of 26 years Richard Horrell said they had been waiting for a “long time” to get traffic lights put in.
The road had become a continuous queue, or “the Motueka crawl.” Locals knew how to get around it, but many did not, he said.
Before the unveiling of the traffic lights, a mother and her child waited patiently at the temporary pedestrian crossing on High St for cars to stop for them. None did.
A Fulton Hogan traffic controller said she had been helping pedestrians cross the busy main street since construction began.
Fulton Hogan site traffic manager superviser Steve Rae said that it was satisfying seeing the four month lights project completed.
Long time Motueka residents Lois and Charlie Stevens, now in Kaiteriteri, said the lights and crossing were badly needed.
Lois said it was a “historic occasion.”
The traffic lights’ installation was part of a $6.8 million Waka Kotahi NZTA project for SH60, which was funded through the Government’s covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund.
West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor, who could not make the ceremony because he was in MIQ, said the traffic pressure on High St, particularly in summer was “extreme.”
The lights would give relief until a long-term solution became availible, he said.
“Lots of promises have been made over the years. It’s nice to be able to deliver.”