Cliff Street becomes casualty of Memorial Walk’s popularity

NEWCASTLE council will spend $50,000 on the trial closure of a street near the Anzac memorial walk in a bid to monitor and reduce road and footpath congestion.

The new clifftop walk and associated bridge at The Hill is causing traffic mayhem at the nearby intersection of Memorial Drive, Cliff and High streets and the Strzelecki Lookout car park.

Surprisingly, the peak traffic period both on the road and on the footpaths occurs on Sunday afternoons.

At its meeting on Tuesday night, the council resolved to spend $50,000 from its ‘‘pedestrian and traffic improvements budget’’ to trial the full and partial closure of Cliff Street and ‘‘minimise risks to the community’’.

A council report said only seven accidents had been recorded at the intersection in the five years prior to the memorial walk’s opening. It contained no figures on how many had happened since, saying only that ‘‘this increase (in traffic) is expected to alter the frequency and pattern of crashes’’ and increase risk to pedestrians.

During two days of traffic monitoring in June, the council recorded 120 cars coming in and out of the Strzelecki car park and 1550 people walking across the bridge every hour during peak periods. At the same time there were 1600 vehicles an hour passing through the road intersection.

‘‘The volume of cars and pedestrians now using an already dangerous intersection highlights the need for clear and direct pedestrian routes,’’ the report said.

Under the $50,000 trial unanimously approved by the council, one lane of Cliff Street will be closed for three months, while the entire road will be closed for another three months. A pedestrian crossing at the entrance to the car park will also be trialed.