Roundabout is not Fair Play
The announcement by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) that the Otaihanga roundabout is for 'safety improvements' is only half the story says Save Kapiti spokesperson Bianca Begovich.
NZTA's own figures show that there hasn't been a serious accident at this intersection in the last three years but Save Kapiti agree that safety improvements are needed along this stretch from Otaihanga to Waikanae.
Mrs Begovich says that these improvements didn't happen because NZTA did not regard the section between Otaihanga and Waikanae as unsafe until it became a "selling point" for the proposed Expressway project. "But another massive 4-8 lane motorway is not going to improve safety. Simple improvements such as wire rope barriers and a few other tweaks are what is needed to improve safety and address congestion along the current State Highway One (SH1)."
However, she says "if NZTA were so concerned about safety improvements, they would have invested in wire rope barriers and other improvements 12 years ago as they were supposed to."
Mrs Begovich also says that NZTA isn't being honest about the reason why they are suddenly investing in a roundabout at this location.
"What they aren't telling us is that this roundabout will actually enable work for the huge number of truck movements required to access the proposed Expressway construction site at Otaihanga."
The proposed Expressway requires vast amounts of fill and is set to be built on swampy peat and sand. The quarries are to the east of SH1 and the proposed Expressway is to the west. NZTA documents show over 3 million cubic metres of dirt will need to be moved to build the Expressway, including importing fill and removing sand and peat. Based on this information, it is estimated over 100 trucks a day will use the intersection. That's why the roundabout is being built, to ensure the trucks can enter and exit the SH1/Otaihanga intersection easily.
"Obviously that will create increased congestion at this point especially as it will be a two lane roundabout on a one lane road. Haven't they learned anything from the Otaki roundabout? This all leads up to even more hold ups for traffic on SH1 for the duration of the project, if it goes ahead" said Mrs Begovich.
Save Kapiti have lodged an appeal on the Board of Inquiry decision in favour of the proposed Expressway on the grounds that the project was not compared to the Western Link Road (WLR) which was approved and consented and in the Kapiti Coast District Plan. "The real tragedy is that none of this is necessary. If the WLR had been built as planned, we would already be driving on the alternative route that addresses our safety and congestion issues without creating even more delays and problems, as the proposed Expressway will," Mrs Begovich says.
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