Traffic-flow woes need urgent fix Traffic snarl-ups raise safety concerns

KEY stakeholders are investigating ways to improve heavy traffic delays within the Kiama municipality due to holiday periods and accidents.

Motorists' frustrations have been exacerbated by changed traffic conditions caused by the $329 million Gerringong upgrade.

The 7.5-kilometre upgrade will include two new interchanges with access to Gerringong and Gerroa, and is expected to be completed by mid- 2015.

The Kiama Local Traffic Committee hosted its latest meeting on May 6.

According to a Kiama council spokesperson, concerns were raised during the meeting about the impact the current Princes Highway upgrade is having on traffic conditions during extended holiday periods such as Easter and Christmas.

"Vehicles attempting to bypass delays on the highway are causing further traffic queues through Kiama town centre," the spokesperson said.

"In turn, this is creating lengthy and significant impacts on local access and amenity.

"Some areas, in particular Kiama Heights, are being isolated by traffic queues."

After the Christmas 2013 holiday period, the council suggested a number of strategies to Roads and Maritime Services. These included better use of variable message signs to warn of traffic delays and queues through Kiama.

It also included the option of providing a contra flow on the Mount Pleasant section, so that two southbound lanes are provided at the start of the holiday period and two northbound lands are provided at the end of the holiday period.

"Council understands that during the Easter period some variable message signs set up before the Gipps Street entry unfortunately had no impact on traffic delays," the spokesperson said.

Suggestions raised at the recent traffic committee meeting included an earlier warning at the Yallah overhead message board, use of radio announcements and further consideration of contra flow to at least the Fern Street intersection.

The committee resolved to raise these concerns with the RMS.

Lake Illawarra Commander, Superintendent Wayne Starling, said heavy holiday traffic and other delays needed to be addressed urgently, and that police would meet with the RMS at an unconfirmed date.

"I have serious concerns about delays and the impact it has on the community," he said.

"I intend to speak to experts from other government agencies to ascertain if any strategies can be implemented to reduce traffic.

"We need to make people aware travelling down the coast that they need to reconsider the time they travel during the peak periods while the road works are being completed."

The Kiama Unit of the State Emergency Service attend road crashes in the municipality. Local controller Warren Turner said little could be done to ease delays in some areas until the upgrade was completed.

"Nothing can be done while road works are there," he said.

"The road works will eliminate the problem, but unfortunately we have a year to wait."

However, he said accurate, up-to-date traffic information being displayed at peak times could provide some relief.

Mr Turner said navigating heavy traffic during holiday periods wasn't typically an issue for the SES.

"Most drivers are very aware of emergency services and quite considerate," he said.

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