NZTA And The SH1 Junctions

In February 2016 we wrote the following letter to Nathan Guy our local MP.
We are writing to express our Association’s concern at the recently finished section of SH1 through Manakau and the junctions from it to Waikawa Beach Road and Mokena Kohere Street.
Concern was raised after residents first became aware of preliminary plans over 12 months ago. Our questions were dismissed with answers which our community did not accept. It displayed a superior attitude by those employed by MWHGLOBAL, NZTA and O2L.
In September, a meeting was suggested by NZTA to which we were invited. This turned into a public meeting. It was attended by more than 60 residents but achieved nothing as the major work was then complete. We were told to wait until the new sealing and road markings were completed and another meeting could be called if necessary.
Many say the basic design is faulty and does not improve road safety. An original carriageway 5 lanes wide with a reasonable surface has been reformed into a dangerous piece of road. No one envisaged a road reduced to two lanes with a flush median strip interspersed with concrete islands and inadequate or no merge and slip lanes at both junctions. We have been made aware of a couple of potentially serious accidents since the work was completed with traffic using the median strip to overtake turning traffic. Drivers leaving Waikawa Beach road in both directions are intimidated while trying to find a gap to enter the 80 kph traffic flow from zero speed. Parking bays have been created opposite the dairy, when in recent years all parking was prohibited in a similar circumstance south of Otaki after fatal accidents.
The final work is an example of shoddy road resealing which has resulted in excessive amounts of tar splashing onto cars in the hot weather and semi-permanent signs saying the surface is slippery when wet which it frequently is. This is caused by water trucks being used to keep the road cool. This road surface is below standard and we are not fooled by claims of a hot summer – what happens in tropical climates?
A completely satisfactory result could have been achieved in a short time by rejigging the lane markings and not wasting 8 plus month’s crating gardens and unused cycle lanes starting and finishing nowhere.
One of the agencies have said that reducing the speed limit through this area will solve all the problems. This leaves residents perplexed as they have made repeated requests to reduce the speed limits on parts of Waikawa Beach Road and at Waikawa Beach settlement, especially during holiday periods, all of which have been rejected because the rules do not allow it. What rules?
Because of past negative responses from all the transport agencies and the local body, we seek your advice as the local Member of Parliament on where do we go from here as there is a lot of dissatisfaction in our community.
Questions we would like answered are
· Why are there are no merging or slip lanes although there are on at least 21 similar junctions between Fisherman’s Table and Manakau?

· What was the rationale in removing the previous lanes?

· Why was this situation allowed to occur at Manakau?

· Why were the local users of the roads not consulted and listened to at the planning stage?

· Is there any possibility of changes being made such as installing merge and slip lanes, a double yellow line in the median strip, move the 80 kph boundary 100 metres north, move the stop position so that the view is not obstructed by a power pole, change the parking area opposite the shop into a slip lane into Manakau?

On 02 May after two follow ups, we received the following letter from the Minister of Transport.

Thankyou for your letter of 28 February 2016 to Hon Nathan Guy on behalf of the Waikawa Beach Ratepayers Association regarding your concerns over the recently finished section of State Highway 1 through Manakau and the junctions from it to Waikawa Beach Road and Mokena Kohere Street. Your letter has been referred to me for a reply office as the issue you raise falls within my portfolio responsibilities.

I have read your concerns and requested background information from the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA). NZTA advised that it has received correspondence and has attended various meetings regarding the work through Manakau outlining the reasoning behind the various changes. The NZTA has confirmed that the responses to these questions have not changed.

The NZTA has told me that, through feedback from the locals, a large number of changes to the design on both Manakau and Ohau were made. These include new signage changes to layout of median islands, parking and roadside gardens, as well as other adjustments to the road and intersection design.

The NZTA also advised me that the road safety auditors investigated the issues in November 2015. Feedback from the independent safety audits was that there were no issues then with the layout and design of the two intersections you mention.

However, due to further concerns being raised, the NZTA is looking to carry out investigations in your area, including:
• investigating the traffic count data from the Waikawa Beach Road (to occur in late April 2016)
• observing occurrences of southbound vehicles queuing to turn right into Waikawa Road (to occur in late April)
• meeting with residents to understand the various issues (to occur in May once the information has been collated).
I believe the other questions you have raised will be taken to the community meeting planned in May 2016, and can be summarized again at that stage.
Yours sincerely
Hon Simon Bridges
Minister of Transport

The Minister’s reply did not answer any of the questions we asked.
The planned meeting to be held in May did not solve anything because it was never held. Contrary to statements contained in his letter, residents of Waikawa Beach were not involved with any preliminary meetings. In fact, we believe that NZTA did not know of any settlement at the beach and only consulted residences at Manakau. The only meeting that we were informed about was held in September 2015 when the work was completed and the senior man, who we believed designed the whole lot, did not front but sent two employees who were restricted in what they said because the press was present.
During May and June we received many letters of support for our concerns and the following was sent to Michael Flyger, Manager at NZTA on 26 June 2016 with copies to the Mayor Brendan Duffy and Councillor Christine Mitchell

In a letter from the Minister of Transport, dated 2 May, he said that a meeting would be held in May with the local community to consider the many concerns we have about the new intersection at Waikawa Beach Road and SH1. He also said that both NZTA and an independent safety audit carried out in November found nothing wrong with the new layout however we are now aware that in the past few weeks modifications have been carried out and one traffic island removed. There are still many questions we want answered. When and where do you propose to hold this promised meeting.
John Brown
Waikawa Beach Ratepayers Association

In typical fashion nothing was heard back from NZTA or Michael Flyger, not even an acknowledgment of our email.

On 27 July a press release was received from NZTA which included the following:

Safety improvements in Manakau and Ōhau
In 2015 we completed significant safety upgrades on State Highway 1 (SH1) through the townships of Manakau and Ōhau. The performance of these improvements will be further monitored and the results shared with local communities and the Horowhenua District Council.

I have now exhausted my time on this matter although it is interesting to note the vast amount of social media coverage on another failed NZTA experiment – the Smart Motorway into Wellington.

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