Decision over Kiama Downs road looms

A long-running and contentious proposal to provide a second access point to the Gainsborough Estate at Kiama Downs will come to a head this month.

Residents of Barton Drive and nearby streets are urging Kiama councillors to say no to the proposed link with Riverside Drive.

Thirty years ago the initial concept plan for the 880-lot Gainsborough subdivision was to have a second access point at Barton Drive and Riverside Drive, however the RTA (now RMS) objected because the section of Riverside Drive in question formed part of the Princes Highway.

After the North Kiama Bypass opened in 2003, the RTA no longer objected to the Barton Drive extension.

However in 2007, when a traffic management plan for Riverside Drive was exhibited by Kiama council, 75 per cent of submissions objected to the opening of the road.

In 2011 Kiama councillor Warren Steel reignited the debate, saying he would be "very surprised if the majority of Gainsborough residents were not in favour", and calling for a full survey of Gainsborough residents.

The survey found 61.2 per cent of residents were in favour of the opening and 38.8 per cent were against, however a final decision was put on hold until a traffic impact study was completed.

A 2012 study concluded the extension of Barton Drive would increase the traffic volumes along some roads within the estate by up to 185 vehicles per hour.

"This volume, although within acceptable environmental performance standards, is considered a substantial increase in traffic movement in a relatively quiet residential area with poor alignment," the report said.

"The undertaking of such a proposal would, if implemented, require several strategically placed traffic management devices to ensure that travel speeds are reduced accordingly."

Kiama council's director of engineering and works, Bryan Whittaker, confirmed council staff would be making a recommendation on Barton Drive at Kiama council's meeting on February 19, but remained tight-lipped as to what that recommendation would be.

Some Kiama councillors, the majority of whom are new to the issue after being elected in 2012, said they had been "inundated" with correspondence, but did not want to comment until they had seen the staff recommendation.

However, Councillor Mark Way was happy to express his support for residents who wanted to keep the Barton Drive link closed.

Cr Way said the traffic impacts on the narrower residential streets surrounding Barton Drive would be too great and the council had other areas where funds would be better spent.

In 2011 the estimated cost of opening the road was $204,000.

Barton Drive resident Ralph Sheens added there were concerns over pedestrian safety, and the link's proximity to a preschool.

"At best, only some two dozen homes would save a few seconds travelling time and a few metres distance travelled by the proposed new exit," he said.

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