No room for pedestrians
After meeting this week with representatives from Watpac and the Main Roads Department, Sunshine Coast councillor Vivien Griffin has reluctantly admitted defeat in her quest to provide a protected pedestrian pathway in front of the Coolum esplanade construction site.
Ms Griffin said the main obstacle to providing a safe pedestrian access along the western side of the David Low Way was a “pinch point” at the southern end of the construction site where the footpath curved out into the road.
The situation is complicated by a pandanus tree, which is part of the approved landscaping and cannot be removed.
“To be able to get protected pedestrian barriers around that pinch point would be virtually impossible, and still enable the three lanes of vehicles that are at that point,” she said.
“You’ve got the north-south vehicles plus the vehicles waiting to turn up Beach Road.
“On that side of it I have to reluctantly admit defeat.”
But the councillor said she had not given up on making it easier for locals and visitors to access Beach Road businesses.
Ms Griffin said she spoke to the Main Roads officer to see if the crossing lights could be switched off to make the crossing a dedicated full-time pedestrian crossing.
Alternatively, the response time of the lights, which are notoriously slow, could be reduced.
“It is enormously frustrating to press that button for the pedestrian crossing and then wait for what seems forever,” she said.
“That’s not meeting the need of a relaxed coastal village.
“You stand there in the boiling hot sun – there isn’t a car on the road – but theoretically you can’t cross. It’s silly.”
The former Noosa councillor said her old employer had a better balance between cars and people.
“I guess I’m biased,” she said.
“We have roundabouts and pedestrian crossings, very few traffic lights. We haven’t lost a pedestrian yet.”
She said the former council looked after the needs of the frail, aged, disabled and mums with prams, through pedestrian refuges.
Ms Griffin said everyone had learned a lot of lessons from the pedestrian situation at the Watpac site.
“At least our staff and main roads will now be very aware that there are some big issues they have to take into account when they develop a construction management plan.
“I think it’s part of a cultural change in saying, ‘look, we actually think pedestrians are really important’.
“We want you to put them at the top of the tree, not the bottom.”
That cultural change could be tested soon when construction begins on the expansion of the Coolum Surf Club, opposite the Watpac site, later this year.