Ballarat traders have expressed their concern over the loss of parking spaces as works along Mair Street continue.
Roadworks have been underway in Mair Street for several weeks now, with a number of traders between Princes and Humffray Streets expressing frustration and concern with how the works have and will continue to impact their businesses.
The state government funded $7 million works for Stage 1 of the Mair Street upgrades aim to improve safety, ease traffic congestion with a growing population and promote the road as a thoroughfare through the central business district.
As part of the works, upgrades between Victoria street and Davies street are being undertaken.
Upgrades to the intersection at Humffray and Mair streets has been completed while the construction of a central median strip between Humffray and Princes Streets and the construction of two additional vehicle lanes between Davies and Humffray streets are in progress.
There will also be a number of changes to left and right turns from Mair Street.
While works between Humffray and Princes streets are on track to finish within the six-week time frame, concluding prior to December 1, works between Humffray and Davies streets are expected to take 14 weeks to complete.
The works on this section of the street will pause between December 1 and January 12.
On the original plans, of the 250 parking spaces between Davies and Victoria streets, 63 were marked for removal. After consultation with traders and the City of Ballarat, this has been decreased with 210 parking spaces to remain.
All parking spaces between Davies and Humffray streets will be converted to parallel parking to allow for an additional vehicle lane in either direction, while 12 angled parking spaces between Humffray and Princes streets will be converted to five parallel parks.
A Regional Roads Victoria spokesperson said these changes were necessary to create space for vehicles travelling towards the CBD to turn right from Mair Street into the carpark of the Ballarat League's Club and to Wilson's Fruit and Vegetables.
The remainder of parks between Humffray and Princes streets will remain as angled parking.
Wilson's Fruit and Vegetables owner Trevor Wilson said though the first set of plans were very worrying, he and other business owners had worked with RRV on several changes due to safety concerns around cars doing u-turns.
As such, a right hand turn into his business when coming from the east was included in the plans.
While Mr Wilson said RRV had been open to consultation, he expressed concern at the future of increasing traffic on Corbett St, with people no longer able to turn right out of his car park back on to Mair Street.
"The street is just not equipped to handle increasing traffic so hopefully they will address that issue," he said.
Though Wilson's customers have access to off street parking when visiting the store, business development manager Melanie Fulcher, Mr Wilson's daughter, said the roadworks had impacted the business as people were seemingly avoiding the area.
"We are lucky in a way because we do have on site parking but I feel for other traders," Mr Wilson said.
With retailers struggling at the moment in the toughest year he has seen, he expressed concern at how the changes could disadvantage retailers along Mair Street in the long term.
Owners of RJM's Wine Bar, Roger Gooding and Joan Miles, said there had been quite a bit of disruption in the past couple of weeks.
While they acknowledged a need to improve the traffic flow, they believe one of the attractions of having their business slightly out of the CBD is that there is easily accessible parking.
"In a town strapped for car parking, why is the decision being made to remove some of it? Parking is short in the CBD as it is," Mr Gooding said.
Meanwhile, Charlie's Parties 4 Kids owner Cath Martin has also noticed an impact on her business during the roadworks.
Though she said the improvements would be great for pedestrians, she is worried about there being less on-street parking in future as her business sees large groups of parents visit each week, whether with playgroups or for parties.
She expressed concern about drivers swinging out of angled parking spaces into oncoming traffic, saying it was dangerous.
Regional Roads Victoria's Regional Director (Western) Michael Bailey said once the works are completed on Mair Street between Davies and Princes Streets, the planned works as part of stage one of the Mair Street Upgrade project will be completed.
He said RRV had worked diligently throughout the planning and design process to ensure the impact on parking was kept to a minimum.
Other proposed stages of works are subject to funding, such as upgrading the Dawson Street and Mair Street intersection by removing the roundabout and installing traffic lights and removing the Grenville street roundabout and installing traffic lights, as well as connecting the CBD bike path to the railway station.
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