Pleas for school crossing finally answered
Posted at 2:47pm Monday 01 Jul, 2019
A lengthy battle to get a pedestrian crossing outside Matakana Primary School appears to have been won, as a result of a new $20 million Community Safety Fund (CSF) from Auckland Transport (AT) to address road safety issues.
Parents and residents have been lobbying for years to get a safe crossing installed near the school, but despite protests, petitions and countless meetings with AT, police, school and the Matakana Community Group (MCG), AT has always maintained that Matakana Road did not warrant a new crossing.
However, in a report to Rodney Local Board's transport committee, AT said that it did make the grade under the funding criteria for the one-off CSF.
“The purpose of the fund is to allow local communities to address long-standing road safety issues that have yet to become regional priorities and have therefore not been addressed by AT,” said a spokeswoman.
The Matakana crossing is one of 12 projects identified and approved by the Local Board for its fund allocation of just over $2 million.
Initial plans to install a Kea crossing, which has swing-out Stop signs and has to be staffed by the school, have been dropped in favour of a signalised crossing that can be used by anyone at any time.
“We've had other requests from other parts of the community for the crossing and, on balance, a signalised pedestrian crossing will provide a great outcome,” AT senior media advisor Joanna Glasswell said.
The news that a proper pedestrian crossing had finally been scheduled was greeted with delight and a degree of disbelief by campaigners in Matakana. School principal Darrel Goosen said it was fantastic that AT had listened to what people wanted after such a long time.
“Hallelujah!” he said. “That's a huge positive outcome for us, that's really great news. I'm really, really happy.”
MCG chairman Simon Barclay agreed.
“It's unbelievable,” he said. “It's a fantastic outcome. I'm extremely pleased and glad they're taking the kids' safety seriously.”
Local parent campaigners Amanda Stewart and Chris Blackbourn, who organised a petition with more than 500 signatures in support of a crossing, both agreed that it was a wonderful surprise.
“We'd reached a bit of an impasse before, but this is exactly what we want,” Chris said. “The safety of kids is the priority here.”
Amanda added that the decision to go with a crossing that everyone could use would be great for older students catching college buses from the school bus bay, as well as the wider community.
Local Board chair Beth Houlbrooke said it was now up to AT to schedule the crossing into its programme of works for the next two years. Installation timing will depend on when detailed design is complete and construction scheduled by AT.
A second new school pedestrian crossing is being proposed from the CSF by the Local Board, this time in Woodcocks Road in Warkworth, near the rear entrance to Mahurangi College and Glenmore Drive, but funding and timing are still to be confirmed for this.