Friday, September 30, 2022

Issue:

Mackay and Whitsunday Life

“We Don’t Want Another Nebo Road”: Shute Harbour Road Destined For More Traffic Lights

An application for a large retail precinct on Shute Harbour Road has been approved at Whitsunday Regional Council’s Ordinary Meeting on Wednesday, and in turn a new set of traffic lights for the major main road.

The traffic lights will be constructed across Galbraith Park Drive and Shute Harbour Road to manage the “impact on traffic movement” of the new Whitsunday Commercial Centre.

BCF and Supercheap Auto will become two of the three tenants for the planned showroom precinct which will be built on the corner of Galbraith Park Drive and Shute Harbour Road, opposite Whitsunday Plaza.

The 7167 square metres with 74 carparking spaces will be accessible from both Galbraith Park Drive and Central Avenue.

The development “triggered the requirement for the intersection of Shute Harbour Road and Galbraith Park to be upgraded to a signalised intersection,” according to the Council report and Tourism and Main Roads (TMR).

In consultation between Whitsunday Commercial Centre and TMR – the state body in charge of Shute Harbour Road – the Centre agreed to pay a $378,900 contribution in infrastructure charges for the traffic lights and new footpaths.

Residents Traffic Action Group (RTA) – who have campaigned from 2006 for roundabouts instead of traffic lights - had previously outlined their concerns for the Galbraith Park Drive and Shute Harbour corner, seeking for the development to be deferred.

The meeting saw fierce discussion between Councillors prior to the approval.

Councillors Al Grundy and Jan Clifford had no “problems with the development, only problems with the traffic lights.”

“I for one, do not believe a Nebo Road type approach is the approach we need to deliver as an entry statement to the tourism destination that we are,” Councillor Al Grundy said.

“Ever since I got into Council, I have been discussing Shute Harbour Road and our management plan for managing our growth. We are the number one tourism destination in the Great Barrier Reef.

“This comes back to the stronger point of what is our vision for this destination. Who do we want to be as a destination and how do we manage our growth?”

Councillor Clifford agreed: “I won’t be supporting this either. I have nothing against the development; I think it’s fantastic. I cannot support another set of traffic lights.”

“Noosa seems to survive without traffic lights, and I don’t see how they’re any different than we are. I don’t want Nebo Road in Airlie,” she said.

Councillor Mike Brunker rallied against Councillor Grundy and Clifford’s sentiments: “It’s not our road; State Government are saying lights are the only solution.”

“I like roundabouts as much as anyone else, but with what we know is going to be there [at Whitsunday Commercial Centre] it will be a calamity [without lights]; this development will be on the table for two or more years if we don’t approve it now,” he said.

“If we want to cap Airlie Beach development now, then let’s do it and save all this crap. We’ve only got one road into Airlie Beach unless we’re talking boring over hills or the other way round,” he said.

Councillor Al Grundy said, regardless of the development, there was a “big picture” to consider.

“I asked TMR: how many traffic lights are going to be between Gregory Cannon Valley Road and Shute Harbour. It’s what the residents want to know,” he said.

“My major concern is how are we going to deal with the population growth along this main road. This is just a microcosm of that.”

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Julie Hall chimed in with a closing remark: “If we go down the aspect of the roundabout, that will take a lot longer to [build].

“Then we’ve got drainage issues and shifting power poles to think about; that will cost more for the ratepayer,” she said.

The motion to approve the development was carried 5-2, with Councillor Clifford and Councillor Grundy recording their names against.

Faye Chapman of RTA said of the development approval that she was fed up seeing major decisions made “without an overall vision for the Whitsunday Way.”

"Once again we are very disappointed to see the views and aspiration of Division 1 and 2 Councillors who represent their community's expectations be over-ruled by planning," said Ms Chapman.

"How long can we let the entrance to world renowned Whitsundays and Airlie Beach be decided by development and not by Council policy?"

Construction dates for the new Centre have yet to be released, as well as construction of the traffic lights on Shute Harbour Road which must be completed before the site can be considered open for business.

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