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Noosas traffic issues are in Councils sights

Each year at this time, there are frustrations voiced regarding traffic in Noosa, particularly to and from the Main Beach precinct. According to Mayor Tony Wellington, this is one of many transport issues with which Council is grappling, and they are happy to engage with others to find solutions.

"The most commonplace suggestion that Council receives regarding traffic congestion in the Hastings Street area is to put in more parking," Mayor Wellington said.

"But experience elsewhere has clearly shown that adding parking does not reduce on-road traffic congestion. In fact, it generally makes matters worse by encouraging more people to drive. We need to be smarter than that.

"Over the next few months, Councillors will be working with traffic experts to consider solutions to local traffic dilemmas. There will also be further opportunity for resident and stakeholder input into this process. 

"Although our transport strategy will be considering the complete Shire, the most pressing demand is to find a solution for the Main Beach precinct and the roads leading into that area.

"One suggested solution is to make the precinct a vehicle no-go zone. Many people point to European examples where vehicles are prevented from entering inner city areas. Certainly free shuttle buses may be part of our future transport solution. But such a solution also requires considerable Council controlled land to be dedicated to fringe parking areas. That presents a whole new dilemma.

"Inevitably, many of the infrastructure solutions to which people point hail from high density cities in other countries. Here in Noosa, we simply don't have the population density, and thus the rates revenue, to support hugely expensive infrastructure like monorails, skyrails and subways.

"In the short term, Council will continue with its free park-and-ride holiday bus service. But plainly we need to find long-term solutions that work not just for holiday periods, and not only for visitors, but also for those residents who live at Little Cove, and surfers who wish to access the National Park with their surfboards.

"It has been suggested that turning the current parking lanes on Noosa Parade into public or alternative transport lanes might ease congestion along that stretch. However any benefit gained from adding extra traffic lanes is mitigated by the two pinch points at Munna Point bridge and Sofitel bridge. Both bridges are two-lanes only, and widening those bridges would be a very expensive task.

"In the meantime, there are immediate issues on Noosa Parade that need addressing. These are the narrow footpaths and the design of the cycling lanes. A solution to these short term problems is being worked on and will be made public in a few weeks' time.

"There are some big questions underpinning our traffic deliberations. Is Noosa running the risk of being loved to death? How can we best manage the inevitable pressure from the thousands of people who may come to live on our doorstep, both on the Sunshine Coast and across South East Queensland? If they want to drive in to Noosa for a day's outing, do we need to think about changing their expectations?

"The current group of Noosa councillors have a forward focus and an appetite for big picture thinking. If we are looking at a modal shift in transport behaviour, as our current Transport Policy suggests, then we need to work with traffic experts, local stakeholders and our community to find the best way forward. Shuttle buses, dedicated electric vehicle and bike lanes, plus paid parking are just some of the many options on the table."

30 December 2016


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