There has been a strong negative reaction in Tahunanui to the Labour candidate’s support for adding two lanes along Tahunanui Drive and Rocks Road for clearways/priority lanes. This is not just an issue for this beachside community. Tahunanui Beach and Rocks Road are iconic Nelson assets that we must protect for future generations.
Few cities are blessed with such a beautiful beach in close proximity to the city centre. The soft sand and sheltered Tasman Bay make it one of New Zealand’s best swimming beaches. I confess an emotional connection in that it is here I proposed to my wife Linley. There are evening sunsets where 100’s of Nelsonians walk this expansive beach. Other recreation enjoyed on Tahunanui Beach includes kayaking, paddle boarding, wind surfing and kite surfing.
The rocky coastline along Rocks Road is as beautiful as the beach. During the April lockdown it was magical to walk, run or bike without hundreds of trucks rumbling past. It is also popular for swimming, fishing and sailing. The rock pools are favourite spots for children discovering marine life.
I have been involved in many projects to enhance this coast with the Connolly’s Quay fishing platform, Nelson Yachting Club, Seafarer’s Memorial and Early Settlers Memorial. This coast is also home for iconic facilities and businesses like Harbour Light Bistro, the Boat House, Styx, the Boat Shed and Guyton’s Fish Shop. These will all be put at risk under this four laning plan.
The strongest reaction has come from the many homes and businesses who would have frontage taken under the Public Works Act to accommodate the additional lanes through Tahunanui and also on Waimea Road. There is also a real concern about the loss of on-street parking and the increased difficulty getting in and out of their property with four lanes of traffic.
I also have major concerns over safety. Clearways are where during peak hours like 6.30am-9.30am and 3.00pm-6.00pm parking is prohibited. The problem is that often cars are mistakenly parked, creating chaos. The Clearway outside the Tahunanui shops a decade ago failed for this reason. NZTA also experimented with priority lanes and clearways on State Highway 1 north of Wellington but they failed. They are now building their inland route, the $1 billion Transmission Gully due for completion next year.
There is no question that Nelson and Richmond has growing problems of traffic congestion but sacrificing Tahunanui and Rocks Road is the wrong answer. NZTA says it is the least resilient option to climate change and it costs $80 million more than the inland route.
The Tahunanui Business and Citizens Association have out of concern, organised a public meeting to update residents this Thursday at 7.30pm at the Community Centre. I hope all Nelsonians will oppose this damaging plan for our beach and coast. Tahunanui Beach and Rocks Road are jewels in Nelson’s crown. Four lanes of traffic including thousands of trucks each day will ruin it. The right vision for this area is a boulevard with restrictions on heavy traffic and this space maximised for walking, cycling and coastal recreation.