Residents of Nepean Avenue in Penrith say the iconic street will look like a construction site when temporary safety measures are implemented to cater for a boost in people using the Great River Walk.
Penrith City Council has received an offer of emergency funding from the NSW Government to improve safety along Nepean Avenue by putting temporary traffic and roadside changes in place.
The proposed short-term solutions include temporary flexible traffic barriers, a designated two-way pedestrian lane, speed cushions and reduced speed limits.
The temporary corridor is set to be two to three metres wide and one metre high on the western side of Nepean Avenue, displacing curb-side parking.
In addition, cyclists will be directed to use the roadway to ensure their safety and the speed limit on Nepean Avenue will be reduced to 40km/hr for pedestrian and cyclist safety.
The measure is set to be trialled from August for a minimum of six months in response to the increase of bridge-to-bridge walkers during the pandemic.
Council says it is also consulting with residents and users of the Great River Walk about more permanent solutions.
About 80 residents met on Sunday in protest of the plans.
“It doesn’t matter where you are, if any street in Penrith had Council come along and put bollards on the street and said you can’t park there, there would be an absolute uproar,” resident Paul Dukes said.
“We understand they have a duty of care and we are more than happy to work with Council to come up with a solution but 100 per cent of the residents say it is not bollards.”
Penrith Councillor Tricia Hitchen met with residents on Sunday and said the proposal was a stop-gap measure and not going to achieve what is needed.
“They want to put up a 2.8 metre laneway that’s going to take north and southbound pedestrian traffic, looking at prams, mobility scooters, kids on bikes, people with dogs, how are they all going to fit?” she asked.
“They’ve come up with this, which is a short-term fix, which in all probability could become a long-term fix because they can’t think of anything else.”
Cr Hitchen said she will put a request into Council calling for the plans to be held off and questioned why it wasn’t sent to the Traffic Committee.
Penrith Mayor Ross Fowler said it was important the safety of Great River Walk users was a focus.
“It has been wonderful to see so many people taking advantage of the Great River Walk over recent months,” Cr Fowler said.
“I’d like to thank the NSW Government for working with us to help our residents exercise safely and within current public health guidelines.”
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Nicola Barton is a news journalist with the Western Weekender, primarily covering crime and politics.