With very little notice and certainly less than adequate information or consultation the Moruya township woke to find that they were to become the very first regional town in NSW to have 30 kph pedestrian zones across the CBD.
The last year has seen raised crossings installed on Shore and Ford streets, and a roundabout at the intersection of Ford Street and Ford Lane.
At last week's Council meeting the new Councillors learn from Council’s director of infrastructure, Warren Sharpe OAM, that there would now be further speed control measures to be set in place via a NSW grant.
Mr Sharpe told the new Councilors “With support from the Moruya Business Chamber, Council has secured $280,000 from the NSW government. The extra money allows for raised pedestrian crossings to be installed on Church and Queen streets. They work to physically slow traffic and complement the inclusion of these streets in the 30 kilometre per hour speed limit zone. “The raised crossings include kerb blisters that narrow the road and offer additional space for safer access. They also present opportunities for outdoor dining and landscaping.”
He then informed that "The Church Street crossing will be located near the Moruya Health Café. The Queen Street crossings will be located between Woolworths and The Reject Shop (with taxi rank retained), and near the French Hot Bread bakery.
Mr Sharpe then went on to tell the new councillors installation of the crossings would require an overall loss of 16 parking spaces saying "We recognise parking is important but there will still be well over 1,000 car spaces in the Moruya CBD to support shoppers and workers. That doesn’t include the many small private parking areas. To help offset the loss, we’ll ensure parking availability close to shops by providing consistent 2-hour on street parking. We’ll also add a requested dedicated bicycle parking area close to cafes and shops."
Mr Sharpe also told the new Councillors that an additional median, right-turn bay and crossing refuge point would be installed on Ford Street to assist traffic flow and improve pedestrian access to IGA. The last we heard of any traffic quietening and the introduction of a highly irregular 30kph zone was when the minutes of the Eurobodalla Local Traffic Committee Meeting No 1 for 2020-21, held on 6 August 2020 were confirmed and accepted. The justification of the new zone for Ford Street, Moruya EAST was that "apart from drivers using the streets to access shops and other services, vehicles are known to pass through as an alternate south bound route to avoid the traffic signals on Vulcan Street". In the minutes of that meeting of October 2020 we learnt that "Council is developing a traffic speed management and pedestrian activation plan for Moruya CBD east that identifies key sites for infrastructure installation. This area is within a 50Km/h speed zone. They make reference to the Eurobodalla Road Safety Plan 2019-2022 that they say has been developed to assist in reducing road related trauma in the community. In the Plan section 6.2 Safer Speeds a recommendation includes Council plan to: ‘6.2.4 Advocate to Transport for NSW to implement 30km/hr speed zones in Moruya CBD and Batemans Bay CBD including where necessary grant funding to implement speed control measures’ and ‘ 6.2.5 Progressively implement additional speed management controls within Moruya CBD east to reduce the actual speed of travel and improve pedestrian movement’. All the Eurobodalla Road Safety Plan 2019-2022 had were words. No diagrams, no maps, no dots or legends to consider.
The first the community heard of the "PLAN" was in the minutes of the Traffic Committee meeting of October 27th 2020 where we learn that a Council Plan 5156, approved by S Bhatt, detailed traffic control options for Ford Street. The community were not given a copy of this so called plan and only had the following as an indication of what might be intended.
It turns out that Council Plan 5156 BQ Sheet 03 identifies 13 key sites for infrastructure installation.
Above: Council staff have been working on a series of roundabouts, zebra crossing and raised crossings for the Moruya CBD since 2019. To date the only outsiders aware have been a few members of the Moruya Chamber of Commerce. Council, is justifying their latest plans that will see three speed humps added to Queen Street and Church Street along with an additional roundabout for the IGA entrance, say "Moruya Business Chamber have been given a copy of the plan, are supportive and have offered to assist at the consultation phase." It is important to recognise, at this point, that the Moruya Chamber only has a handful of members and does not represent all of the town's businesses, and certainly not the premise owners or the community who are the primary users of the town. Without doubt the community and premise owners would be interested to learn of the proposed review of timed on-street parking and implementation of a 40 or 30km/h speed zone as proposed as part of the plan development. A quick visit of Moruya businesses this week revealed that most businesses were unaware of the Council pop-up information session about the work held today (Thursday 3 March between 8 and 11 am) near the Moruya Health Food Café, Church Street. This might explain why the session was poorly attended though it would be fair to add that the community were under instruction not to needlessly travel due to the flood warning on the Moruya River that was threatening to top its banks just a hundred meters away.
Above: Moruya River March 3rd 2022 - photo Moruya Mail Council has now revealed the impact of its plan saying that their proposals will require the removal of a net 16 parking spaces to achieve the pedestrian improvements, modifications to traffic movements and provide the facilities needed to reduce the actual speed of travel. The net changes they identify in parking numbers in their proposal includes: • converting one car space available for multiple bicycle parking near Church Street east carpark entrance, close to cafes and shops • Modifying the central car park to the north of Harris Scarfe to add back five parking spaces • modification to the pool car park to add back two car spaces • consistent 2-hour parking in Queen Street and Church Street east (between the highway and Ford Street) and in Ford Street (between Queen Street and Ford Lane) to ensure the spaces closest to shops are more available for shoppers. While all of the above sounds fine and is a step forward one wonders about the process. Behind all of this is a vision of one man. Warren Sharpe, Director of Engineering. Should the 30 kph zones all be approved and set in place it will make Moruya, Eurobodalla, the very first regional town in NSW to have these constraints. Outside of Manly, Liverpool, Newcastle Parramatta and Hornsby the idea is to have Moruya as a model regional town where businesses, premise owners and the community are blissful of their traffic calming constraints. In October 2021 ACM reported Tim Dalrymple, President of the Moruya Chamber of Commerce saying: "When the proposed Moruya bypass is built, Mr Dalrymple said 30km/h zones could easily extend throughout Moruya's CBD.
"Once the bypass is built, the main street will not have that 30-40 per cent of through traffic - it's going to change Moruya in a huge way," he said.
"At busy times in summer it is more than 30-40 per cent through traffic. The new speed limit will make getting around town a more enjoyable experience." Without doubt the plans for traffic calming and more 30 kph zones will soon extend westward from Church Street to Page Street (including the school) and also along Shore Street. One might ask "Why stop there? Why not extend the 30kph zone along Page Street and include Mirrabooka Avenue as well?"
But it comes down to vision. This is the vision of the Director of Engineering. It is a vision that was already in play before the recent Council elections and it is a vision that was unknown to the previous councillors or the public as no-one had seen the overarching Council Plan 5156 BQ. The new councillors voted last week to "Endorse the acceptance of $280,000 in grant funding under the NSW Government’s High Pedestrian Activity Area Speed Management Program to install traffic calming infrastructure in Moruya, noting that further engagement will be undertaken prior to the final design of traffic calming arrangements and changes to parking arrangements." Just what do Council consider "further engagement" might be? A meeting with two or three members of a Business Chamber that is not at all representative of the number of businesses in the town or of premise owners (given most chamber members are lessees). Will the further engagement be with members of the community around the "vision" of the township, its parking, its use of space and the net loss of carparking. Just who is in charge of the vision? It is a well known saying across the Eurobodalla by staff and community members that "What Warren wants, Warren Gets". Maybe it is time for the new Councillors to sit down with Warren and remind him that they do not appreciate being told to accept funding they didn't apply for, for projects they did not know existed, and that having an arbitrary chat with a local Chamber president did not constitute satisfactory public consultation. Those attending this morning were told that Council wanted the work to begin as soon as possible due to the requirements of the grant. So much for consultation and listening to feedback.
Above: Searching Council records the only warning of any "vision" for the area east of Vulcan Street was in the agenda of May 22nd, 2018 where councillors were informed that the Traffic Committee had discussed "a Concept". There was no recommendation. Nothing was voted on. Of interest is that the Traffic Committee DID NOT state that they supported the concept (as they had done with the others on the same day) On the 25th February 2020 the Traffic Committee tabled their minutes In it they said : "Council’s Road Safety Plan is currently being renewed to cover 2019 to 2021. Titled ‘Eurobodalla Road Safety Plan 2019-21’ this plan takes over from the current adopted ‘Road Safety Strategic Plan 2013-17’. A power point presentation of the plan was presented by Council’s Director Warren Sharpe." This is simply a way of saying they support it IF, and ONLY IF, Council chose to adopt the Plan. The Traffic Committee's recommendation was that Council’s ‘Eurobodalla Road Safety Plan 2019-21’ be endorsed. But has it ever been adopted by Council?