Around the roundabout debate again

CAMPAIGN: Greens candidates Vanessa Ekins and Shae Salmon want to save our roundabouts.
CAMPAIGN: Greens candidates Vanessa Ekins and Shae Salmon want to save our roundabouts.

A PROPOSAL to rip out some of Lismore's roundabouts and replace them with traffic lights has been seized by Greens candidates as an election issue.

Cr Vanessa Ekins said the councillors were invited to a CBD planning charrette where council planning staff had collated all the reports relating to the CBD in recent years into one masterplan, and she noticed traffic lights were marked on some of the maps.

"I'm always surprised by the constant push by the engineer section to install traffic lights. It rang some alarm bells for me because we love our roundabouts and they give Lismore part of its colour and flavour," Cr Ekins said.

"Otherwise all we've got is asphalt with flashing lights, which is not what we want in our city."

The council's director of sustainable development, Brent McAlister, said the traffic light proposal had been around for some time and the masterplan was planning 15-20 years into the future.

"But what status does it have at the moment? None. It will go to the new council (and they will be asked) 'What do you want to do?', 'What do you want to progress?'" he said.

Mr McAlister said the main argument for replacing roundabouts with traffic lights was to increase pedestrian safety by having places where people could cross with the lights and also because they created gaps in the traffic to allow people to cross more easily in busy streets such as Woodlark St.

He said raised junctions were being considered to make some CBD roads more pedestrian-friendly.

Cr Ekins said there were other ways to achieve pedestrian safety, such as pedestrian lights or crossings, without ripping up roundabouts and replacing them with traffic lights.

Cr Ekins said some of the figures floating around on the cost of replacing roundabouts were in excess of $1 million, plus ongoing electricity costs.

Mr McAlister said they weren't able to give accurate costs.

"We recognise the iconic nature of some of our roundabouts and we're approaching this in a measured, staged sort of way," he said.

The masterplan identifies Dawson St, Woodlark St, Molesworth St and Ballina Rd as potential intersections where roundabouts may need to be replaced.

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