14 July, 2023
Kerbs, stormwater focus of CBD plan
FINDING a way to make high kerbs in Mareeba’s CBD easier to manage, better stormwater drain- age, pedestrian crossings on council-controlled streets, and more seating, lighting and shade are all part of a new proposal to improve the area for pedestrians and shoppers.
Mareeba Shire Council is about to embark on a design plan to address what it says are long- standing issues that have generated a “large volume” of complaints from businesses, residents and visitors and need to be tackled.
A report to council stated that the high kerbs in Mareeba’s central business district had been problematic for a long time for elderly residents but also for those using mobility aids or prams.
“Council has installed several steps to assist pedestrians to navigate the high kerbs, primarily in Byrnes Street, over a period of many years. Unfortunately, these steps have a number of limitations,” the report stated.
“Vehicles parked in angle-parking bays ob- struct access to the steps, which are only able to be used to access the footpath by pedestrians
who exit or enter a vehicle parked immediately in front of the step.
“The steps only benefit a small sub-set of people; they do not improve access for people who require mobility aids such as walking frames and rollers, and they are not safely accessible for prams.
“These steps also impede stormwater flows in an already unsatisfactory drainage system, there- fore installation of additional steps to service all parking bays is not recommended.”
Cr Lenore Wyatt said it was critical that council addressed the high kerbs, particularly given the age demographic of the town.
“At the moment, our mean average age is in the 50s so it’s definitely accessibility and all abilities – this is our core business, this is making sure it all comes together and we are seeing a lot of elderly people trying to get up on the footpath.”
Stormwater drainage will be a key focus of the plan, with Deputy Mayor Cr Kevin Davies say- ing action is “overdue”.
“This is overdue, especially with the storm water in our main street that drainage was put in when Jesus was a boy,” he said.
“A lot of people don’t see what’s under the ground including our sewerage, water and stormwater. You only have to see in a downpour in the main street what happens and that’s mainly due to overland flow - once you get it underground, it disperses more evenly.
“So, the first stages of this definitely would be the stormwater and we can work upwards from that.
“It’s not a revitalisation of the main street, it’s just to improve this infrastructure and improve the access from the car parks up onto the footpath.”
According to the council report, the stormwater issue has been a long-standing problem that was made worse when Main Roads reconfigured the system at the corner of Byrnes and Rankin Streets as part of the installation of traffic lights around 2019.
“There is presently insufficient underground stormwater drainage infrastructure to adequate- ly service the Mareeba CBD, with much of the stormwater being transported via the kerb and channel before being directed into underground systems east and west of Byrnes Street,” it stated.
“In some locations in the CBD, stormwater inundates the footpath and traffic lanes during even the most minor rainfall events, which further reduces safety and accessibility for pedestrians. Council officers had been in discussions with Main Roads in an effort to have it reinstate the existing drainage path, however this was yet to be actioned by the department.
“Notwithstanding, even if TMR return the drainage to its pre-2019 flow paths, there still appears to be insufficient capacity in the CBD stormwater drainage network which needs to be addressed," the report stated.
Council officers are currently undertaking an assessment of the existing stormwater network to document the size and condition of the existing infrastructure.
Part of the proposal for the CBD works is the establishment of a new toilet facility, with the one set to be constructed in the Post Office car park now deferred, and the contractor set to construct a new toilet at Bicentennial Lakes instead.
Officers conducted a review of the safety implications of constructing the facility in the Post Office car park and found that while there were some advantages to the location, the proposal presented several safety concerns, including pedestrian interaction with vehicles within the car park, limited footpath connectivity and poor lighting.