Call to remove Kiama's only traffic lights

Uncertain future: Kiama councillor Mark Way, left, with Kiama Downs resident Wayne Hogan at the traffic lights in Kiama Downs, which are under review by the Kiama traffic committee. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI
Uncertain future: Kiama councillor Mark Way, left, with Kiama Downs resident Wayne Hogan at the traffic lights in Kiama Downs, which are under review by the Kiama traffic committee. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

They are the only set of traffic lights in the Kiama municipality and Kiama councillors are deeply divided over the issue of whether they should stay or go.

The traffic lights at the intersection of Meehan Drive and Riverside Drive at Kiama Downs played an important role for residents of the Gainsborough Estate when the Princes Highway cut through the area.

But since the opening of the North Kiama bypass a decade ago, traffic volumes have fallen and Kiama Council has received complaints that the lights are now causing "unnecessary delays".

According to Kiama councillors Warren Steel and Kathy Rice, residents of Bombo and Gainsborough respectively, the overwhelming majority of people want the lights removed.

But according to councillor Mark Way, a resident of Kiama Downs, the vast majority of people want the lights to remain and a Kiama council survey appeared to support Cr Way's position.

The survey found "strong opposition" to the removal.

Kiama councillors were given a recommendation to retain the lights and build a roundabout at the nearby intersection of Oxley Avenue and Riverside Drive, but instead have voted to defer the matter and return the issue to the Kiama traffic committee for comment.

Cr Steel said the survey results were more a reflection of the apathy of people to take part in a survey, rather than actual opinion on the lights.

"There are 5000 people in this area and just 25 people took the time to give their input," he said.

"I believe I have spoken to a couple of hundred of people and the majority want the lights to go.

"Here was their chance and they don't make a comment ... what's with the people of Gainsborough?"

Cr Rice said with "the amount of noise" she had heard about the traffic lights she was "astounded" to find the removal of the lights wasn't supported.

However, Cr Mark Way "totally disagreed" with both.

"There is a huge demand for the intersection of Oxley Avenue to be a roundabout and in my case the overwhelming majority want the traffic lights to stay because of the safety of children crossing the road there," he said.

Cr Way said people who supported removal of the traffic lights wanted a roundabout installed at the Meehan Drive intersection, but when it was explained to them it was too small for a roundabout they preferred the option of keeping the lights over a proposed "seagull intersection".

"Cyclists think the seagull intersection is a death trap," Cr Way said.

"I find it astronomical people would worry about 15 to 30 seconds - a minute at most in a short peak time - over safety."

Cr Way said adjusting the timing of the lights and installing a "left turn on red permitted after stopping" sign would solve most problems.

Gainsborough resident Wayne Hogan backed Cr Way's position and said there was "a lot of misinformation" around the time it took to get in and out of the estate.

"People use the lights to safely cross the street.

"Without lights, children and young mothers with prams will have to run the gauntlet when they cross what is still a very busy street," Mr Hogan said.

aarnold@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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