Green light for traffic

GRIFFITH Street is likely to once again remain open to traffic at next year's annual Wintersun Festival.

Organiser Barry McNamara, who on Friday met with Gold Coast City Council's traffic and major events personnel and Gold Coast Police events management to discuss the future of the rock 'n' roll nostalgia event, said that the consensus was to have Coolangatta's main street re-opened to traffic as it had been at this year's festival held in June.

The controversial decision by police not to close off the street in order to ease traffic congestion was met with criticism from a large number of business owners who claimed it encouraged revellers to bypass the street and therefore cost them thousands of dollars in revenue.

Speaking to the Tweed Daily News in the aftermath of the event, one local business owner said he had lost $20,000 over the 10 days as a result of the decision.

Mr McNamara said that while the street would remain open to traffic at the 2009 event he was hoping the addition of vintage cars along the street would keep pedestrians on the street and close to the shops.

"The plan for Griffith Street is that we leave it open for through traffic the same as we did this year, but the street will still become very much a part of the event," he said.

Pedestrians would continue to walk along the footpaths of Griffith Street, the vintage cars would be on display at the sides of the roadway and motorists could continue their access, he said.

"The feedback from retailers has been that when Griffith Street was closed to traffic people were walking up the middle of the street and looking at the cars.

"By keeping the street open and having the pedestrians walk on the other side of the cars we are actually pushing them towards the shops. The belief is it will be better for the retailers."

The festival's street parade, complete with rock 'n' roll bands, vintage cars and floats, was also forgone this year due to traffic congestion issues, but has been given the the go-ahead for 2009. "It looks like it is going to be possible to put the street parade back on for 2009, which is fantastic," Mr McNamara said.

"We are looking at going from North Kirra to Coolangatta this time, which means it will go past Kirra Point and that is a very beautiful area."

While next year's festival is still in the planning stages and nothing discussed at Friday's meeting has been finalised, Mr McNamara said it was a good indication of what was going to happen.

"We looked at the traffic flow of the whole event and we've got some good ideas in regards to what we can do to make this event work for the next five to 10 years," he said. It is expected to take at least another two months before any plans for the festival are %finalised.

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