Everyone routinely complains about the difficulties in using the intersection of SH1 and Waikawa Beach Road. This has been the case for several years now.
Early in 2021 the WBRA Committee decided to again try to ‘get something done’ and we began the work of gathering information to come up with a plan and get wide support for it.
Imagine our surprise when we were given a document the Manakau folks had created and sent to Waka Kotahi, and were invited at the last minute to a meeting on 17 February 2021 to discuss that document. See the list of attendees below.
A lot of the discussion was around the specific needs of Manakau folks, for example getting kids to and from the school. However, there was also a fair bit of discussion about the intersection that most concerns us here at Waikawa Beach.
Safety is the key concern for Waka Kotahi
The representatives of Waka Kotahi talked a lot about safety, and correlated safety very strongly with lower speed. They also made it clear that their budget is very limited, and there was a strong suggestion that once the new Expressway is in place in 10 years time, the current ‘problems’ will resolve themselves.
An example of the ‘safety’ focus was when one member of Waka Kotahi clarified that there is less damage and injury if a car is rear-ended than if they’re crashed into side-on. This was given as a justification for not creating an actual lane to allow people travelling north on SH1 to turn left into Waikawa Beach.
Apparently a lane can cause a hazard that could allow a vehicle to move out from Waikawa Beach Road then a northbound vehicle behind the northbound left-turning vehicle could crash side-on into the vehicle leaving Waikawa Beach Road. It’s better for the northbound left-turning vehicle to be rear-ended as that causes less damage and injury overall than a side-on crash.
I think I don’t want to test that theory with a fully laden logging truck barreling along behind me…
Some data was provided:
- In the five years prior to the improvements through Manakau a few years ago there were 8 deaths and serious injuries across Manakau and Ohau, compared to 4 in the five years since (3 in one incident).
- In 2011 to 2019 there has been a 25% traffic volume increase.
We pointed out the growth we have already experienced at Waikawa Beach — think of the various new buildings and all those contractors using the road, for example.
We also pointed out that some larger blocks of land have come up for sale recently and that the Real Estate agents always mention the possibility of zoning changes and creating housing developments. We know Horowhenua District Council are struggling with population growth and are looking for places to put people, so before long a substantial new development could spring up, putting even more pressure on that intersection.
Waka Kotahi are taking all the discussion from their consultations and will draft up some plans for further feedback. It seemed reasonably clear from the meeting though that they are open to perhaps reducing speed limits (in itself a complex and long process with legal requirements). They are open to options that cost as little as possible. They might do more work with soft medians (eg painted lines) or signage.
What seemed really clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, was that effectively nothing will change for us. Perhaps some kind of speed reduction through Manakau or even between Ōtaki and Levin, a few signs, some painted lines. No turning lanes.
The fact is, our community is small and Waka Kotahi’s funds are very limited yet they ‘look after’ a huge area.
Nothing substantial will change at the intersection between SH1 and Waikawa Beach Road until the new Expressway is built and the road is handed over to Horowhenua District Council.
All we can really do now is cross our fingers and hope there aren’t any serious or fatal accidents at ‘our’ intersection in the next decade.
On a personal note: I left that meeting feeling a little shocked and utterly despondent. I find that intersection troublesome, as I think everyone at Waikawa Beach does. It was absolutely clear that nothing will actually change, regardless of lobbying, discussions, feedback or anything else we might try. I think that’s why I didn’t write up this brief report sooner.
At the meeting
MDCA and guests: Kimbal McHugo, Linda James, Liz Everett, Miraz Jordan, Adam Tulloch, Pauline Masters, Glen Belsham, Deb Logan, Esther and Don Sweet, Sarah Hodge
Waka Kotahi: Karl Jackson, Wayne Holcroft, Dan Tate, Jamie Povall (Stantec), Raewyn Pudsey
Horowhenua District Council: Chris Mitchell (councillor), Carolyn Copeland.
Apologies: Daniel Haigh, John Hailwood, Barbara, John Hewittson.