The Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council are in discussions to repurpose Morris Street as a one-way road, as the London Plane tree roots which are scattered along the street continue to break the curb and footpath.
The heritage trees in front of Sacred Heart Central Church and School have caused issues in the past, with Council finding temporary solutions to a permanent problem.
The proposed plan to overcome this issue is to narrow Morris Street and allow a new and safe footpath to be built around the traditional trees.
CGRC councillor Charlie Sheahan said that it was a priority to find a solution where the London Plane could remain while also allowing safe access for pedestrians.
“The trees are very advanced and beautiful, but they have damaged the footpath and curb fairly badly along that selection of Morris Street,” Charlie said.
“The Council has in the past put down rubber asphalt on the footpath, but it’s not really safe, particularly for elderly people who are walking on it.
“They’ve come up with the concept of moving the curb into the roadway at about a car’s width, then constructing the footpath along the curb in the section that they create.”
While protecting the vintage London Plane trees and making it safer and more accessible for pedestrians, changed traffic flow along the street is also of high consideration by the Council.
“In order to maintain our parking availability, we’re looking at making Morris Street, from Cooper Street to Sutton Street, just a one-way street with a single lane of traffic,” the councillor said.
“Then we will still be able to have parking on both sides of the street.
“That will improve our pedestrian safety and won’t impede traffic movements too much, which will enable us to keep those trees and provide a safe footpath for our pedestrians.
The London Plane trees on Morris Street are well established and have been growing there as long as one can remember, so the Council’s preference is to keep them exactly how they are.
The trees are considered healthy and stable, and Council deems them as no risk to fall or break onto the surroundings.
“They are beautiful shade trees and to take those out would be a pretty big cost to Council. We don’t really want to do that if we can avoid it,” Charlie said.
“I think the proposal that the staff have put forward is very good.
“There’s no doubt that the Council will consult the residents along that section of road which will be affected by the changes, but I can’t see it being too much of an impact on people, in fact, it will help to improve the amenity in the area.”
As Morris Street contains the school and Church, it can be very busy during all hours of the day, which the Council have taken into consideration.
“You’ve got the school drop-off where there are lots of kids and parents during school hours, and then during Church times as well with funerals and weddings, so it will simplify the movement of traffic and pedestrians as well,” Charlie continued.
Council will continue to have discussions with the community in the coming weeks to advance the progression on the potential street upgrade.