Road resurfacing starts in February 2017

In the hot sun on 27 February 2017 contractors from Higgins were creating fresh surfaces on some of the roads around the village. By mid-afternoon they had resurfaced most of Reay Mackay Grove, a small patch on Strathnaver Drive, and Cathryn and Duncan Streets.

It’s great to see the place being maintained like this.

New road seal on Reay Mackay Grove, looking south.
New road seal on Reay Mackay Grove, looking south.
New road seal on Reay Mackay Grove, looking north.
New road seal on Reay Mackay Grove, looking north.
New road seal on one patch of Strathnaver Drive.
New road seal on one patch of Strathnaver Drive.
New road seal — Duncan Street.
New road seal — Duncan Street.
New road seal — Cathryn Street.
New road seal — Cathryn Street.
New road seal — Cathryn Street, photo by Kevin Burns.
New road seal — Cathryn Street, photo by Kevin Burns.

Update, 16 March 2017: after some discussion with the Council about the shingle left all over the grass beside the road, a crew has come to clean up. Thanks to Kevin Burns for the photo.

Shingle cleanup after road resurfacing.
Shingle cleanup after road resurfacing.

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.

A Video Of The New Safe Intersection

A short video clip taken on a Saturday morning recently showing the lack of slip and merging lanes the power pole which some have said restricts visibility to the south when waiting at the intersection. It also shows the garden that has replaced the old merging lane when heading into Levin. To quote NZTA it is a standard T junction and as such you must wait at the intersection and wait for a gap in the traffic.

Meeting With New Zealand Traffic Agency

Do you think the changes to the Intersection at SH 1 and Waikawa Beach road are an improvement or detrimental to safety at that intersection?

Last week Horowhenua District Councillor Christine Mitchell and the Chief Executive David Clapperton attended our committee meeting where all committee members present expressed concern with the new road layout. One of our committee also contacted the local MP Nathan Guy.
As a result we have been invited to an on-site meeting with three senior staff from NZTA. They are Communications and Stakeholder Liaison Manager Michael Flyger, Central Highways Manager David McGonigal and Safety Engineer Mike Pilgrim.

When Monday 28 September 2015 at 3.30pm
If the weather is bad the meeting will be transferred from the intersection to the Manakau Community Trust Hall.

Their invitation states they want to explain the changes made at the intersection particularly with regard to traffic turning left onto the State Highway to head north and also their intentions of the project as a whole.
We feel that if there is a good representation of local residents at this meeting they may realize that they have made some serious mistakes. A similar situation occurred at Ohau and they succumbed to public pressure and planned changes were not made.

Our main concerns are the lack of adequate slip and merge lanes, not only at Waikawa Beach Road but also at the rail crossing entrance to Manakau, the provision of a parking bay opposite the shop and an oversized power pole which restricts visibility to the south when waiting at the intersection on Waikawa Beach Road.
We are also hoping that Manakau residents will also attend as they have also expressed serious concerns.

Letter To DomPost 24 June 2015

Considering there is never enough money to give New Zealand a First World roading system, I have to question the NZ Transport Agency after the washout of the Waikawa Stream bridge at Manakau on Friday night that bought the lower North Island to a halt.
For the last month we’ve witnessed the expenditure of god knows how much on repairing- or is it vandalising – State Highway 1 through Manakau.
Lanes squeezed together, the removal of wide safe shoulders, the addition of gardens and ridiculous cycle lanes. Meanwhile, the region has many poorly drained sections of highway and antiquated bridges, always at risk given our pluvial climate. One road to our capital and cycle lanes and gardens are their priority? I despair.
Anne Moretto

Waikawa Beach Road / SH1 Junction

Some ratepayers have recently been in touch with NZTA regarding the plans of the proposed road works at the junction of Waikawa Beach Road and State Highway 1 work on which is to start shortly. The plans lacked clarity and when zoomed where of an inferior definition and could not be read.

In answer to a question from a ratepayer about lack of consultation they replied:-
These safety improvements through Ohau are part of the wider project investigating options for the route between Otaki and Levin and are considered short/medium term measures until the long term proposals are approved. As such, these improvements do not require a formal approval process under the RMA and therefore no formal submissions have been sought. We have however liaised with property owners and held Open days for the project as a whole, where many of the issues were discussed and addressed.
So there we go. They were confused where Manakau is as it refers to Ohau which was repeated when the money wasting signs were put up on the main road called it Manukau until it was hastily taped out after complaints.
The Association asked questions from NZTA and received some answers.

For traffic from south, the exit lane is very short and braking from 80 kph to make a sharp left turn into Waikawa will cause frustration to through traffic. Could the present shoulder from the shop be marked as an exit lane?
We have to be conscious that left turning vehicles do not mask the presence of vehicle behind them, which can lead to a vehicle turning out of Waikawa Beach Road when it is not safe to do so, and a collision occurring between the vehicle turning out of the side road, and the vehicle following the vehicle turning left into Waikawa Beach Road.

Traffic exiting Waikawa Beach proceeding north has no space to increase speed to 80 kph and so merge. Can a lane be marked on the present hatch painted shoulder?
The left turn out is not a merge, it is a standard priority intersection (as is currently the case). The left turn out should not be treated as a merge as it is not safe. Instead a vehicle waiting to turn left out of Waikawa Beach Road should wait until there is a suitable gap in traffic to turn out and accelerate to the operating speed of the road.

Traffic from north turning right into Waikawa Beach has a small holding lane but can this could be lengthened to allow for slowing down and also to accommodate the number of vehicles that sometime accumulate when there is heavy northbound traffic?
This right turn bay will be lengthened substantially (to over 60m). With the removal of the passing lane and speed limit reduction, this is a safer intersection form because it removes the need for vehicles wishing to turn right into Waikawa Beach Road from having to decelerate in the overtaking lane of the passing lane, as is currently the case.

Traffic exiting Waikawa heading south has no lane to increase speed to 80 kph so they can merge.
As the passing lane is being removed at this location, and the speed through this section reduced to 80 km/h, there is an opportunity to provide a safer layout for drivers turning out of Waikawa Beach Road when a suitable gaps exists. A turning area and 3m wide median will be provided using road markings. This is shown below. This is a preferred layout because it removes the issue of much slower vehicles turning out of Waikawa Beach Road needing to merge in with faster vehicles in the overtaking lane.

Some of these answers seem strange particularly the reasoning about merging.

A further email was sent seeking answers to unanswered questions but to date no answer has been received.
These questions were
1. What was the official attitude on painted hatched areas particularly the centre median strip. If it is legal to use this area why not paint proper lanes on it including a double yellow line. If they can be used as merging or exit lanes but you refuse to mark the lanes, who would have the right of way viz traffic from Waikawa proceeding to south or traffic from Manakau proceeding north and both using the centre median,
2. Could the present stop line at the junction from Waikawa Beach be moved closer to the SH1 as a wide power pole presently masks vision to the south.
3. There appears to be no provision for an exit/holding lane into Manakau from the north which could result in massive congestion when a train is parked over the railway crossing as often occurs.

As reported in last Friday’s Horowhenua Chronicle, Ohau residents have expressed similar concerns.

The attitude of NZTA appears to be this is how it is done according to our advisors and you people know nothing. Did the same advisors also plan the three small diameter roundabouts on SH1 at Paremata, Plimmerton and Otaihanga, or the various efforts at resealing SH1 north bound lanes at the top of the Ngauranga Gorge or the wrongly positioned traffic lights at Otaki. The latest folly of installing a kerb on SH1 between Kimberly Road and Ohau makes one wonder if NZTA is a major shareholder in the cone factory.

01 April 2015
Since the above was posted we have received the following. Answers in itallics
Thankyou for the answers to our questions which disappoints me as no doubt will many residents of our community.
However, not all my questions were answered. In some countries the road rules do not permit driving on painted hatching In NZ, driving on hatched shoulder markings is permitted. I presume this is not true in New Zealand as you imply that in answer to question 1 by saying “it can” and if it can why not paint it as an exit lane. It will be provided as a sealed shoulder to support lower traffic speeds and, as previously stated, avoid the issue of a following vehicle being masked . This lane would also benefit the many people who shop at the store and then proceed to Waikawa.
The problem you raise regarding blocked visibility could be solved if the line marking where to wait when exiting Waikawa was moved closer to the SH1. This is nationally stipulated and will be 1.5m from the continuity line through the intersection. From this position, through traffic proceeding north could easily be seen outside a proposed exit lane This has been checked and a turning vehicle can block the visibility splay (for a vehicle waiting to turn onto SH1) to a following vehicle . Moving the line would also solve the present blocked visibility cause by a large lamp post. I can envisage with your proposal exiting vehicles moving out once they see an indicator light knowing that all traffic would have to slow down to about 20 kph behind the exiting vehicle. The slowing of traffic throughout Manakau is a desired outcome of the changes.
If we can drive on the hatch painted shoulder can we also drive on the hatch painted median? Yes, in certain circumstances as defined in the Land Transport Rule If so who has the right of way when a vehicle exiting Waikawa heading south and a vehicle exiting Manakau heading north are both using this median to build up speed? No one specifically has ‘right of way’ – the Road Code and Rule stipulates when drivers can use the flush median In some similar situations double yellow lines mark the median boundary, first on one side and then the other so that each exit lane or bay, as you call it, has sufficient length to increase speed.
With no exit lane for Manakau traffic coming from Levin, serious congestion will occur when trains are stopped on the crossing which occurs frequently as it is a crossing loop For the left turn into Mokena Kohere Street, a wider taper is still provided, for the reasons you have identified.