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by Greta Yeoman

A proposal to shift the State Highway 79 route through Geraldine is back on the table.

The suggestion to move the highway from Cox St to Talbot St through the centre of Geraldine was raised during last week’s Geraldine Community Board meeting.

The proposed re-routing of SH79 through Geraldine

Geraldine ward councillor Kerry Stevens told The CourierĀ the proposal had been raised again because of increased traffic through the South Canterbury township.

“[We] decided it was worth looking into.”

The idea was last proposed in 2005 but had been declined by the Timaru District Council’s infrastructure committee at the time due to concerns about the cost.

The board agenda says the plan has been raised again since land use, land ownership and traffic volumes had changed in the last 13 years, leading to road safety concerns at Geraldine Primary School and at the Cox and Talbot Sts intersection that could be mitigated if the highway was rerouted.

Mr Stevens said the board decided to have further discussions with the community and stakeholders about the potential SH79 shift before any decisions were made.

The board recommended to the Timaru District Council’s infrastructure committee, which would make any decisions on the change, that data on crashes and traffic volumes in the area be compiled to inform any potential changes.

While the shift from Cox to Talbot Sts, via Kennedy St, was not guaranteed, it was the “most obvious option” if moving the highway was chosen, he said.

Geraldine residents The Courier spoke to had mixed views on the proposal.

A representative from the Geraldine Vintage Car and Machinery Museum in Talbot St said any proposed change would not affect the museum.

“Both streets are as busy as each other.”

However, Geraldine Motels owner Joseph Jones, whose business is also on Talbot St, said it would “absolutely” be a positive change.

“It would obviously be good for us.”

In the two years he had been running the motel he had noticed a slight increase in traffic along the alternative road into the town.

The change would mean drivers heading north coming into the Cox St-Talbot St area of town would not have to turn left out of Cox St on to Talbot, making it “safer”, he said.

“I can understand the idea.”