Ex­press­way sheds ‘grum­ble strips’

Kapiti Observer - - FRONT PAGE - VIR­GINIA FAL­LON

Ka¯piti’s $630 mil­lion ex­press­way is to lose half its rum­ble strips in an ef­fort to pla­cate sleep-de­prived res­i­dents.

The raised strips on the left­hand lanes will be re­moved in each di­rec­tion of the 18-kilo­me­tre road, af­ter cost­ing about $7500 a kilo­me­tre to in­stall. The right­hand strips, along­side the me­dian bar­rier, will re­main.

Nick Fisher, of the Ex­press­way Noise Ac­tion Group, said the work would go some way to help­ing noise-af­fected res­i­dents get a good night’s sleep, but it was a ‘‘mon­u­men­tal’’ waste of tax­payer money.

‘‘The fact is they should never have been put in in the first place.’’

Rum­ble strips are a safety mea­sure. Raised ribs spaced at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals along the edges of a road act as a warn­ing to driv­ers that they are veer­ing out of their lane.

Fisher said NZTA’s own guide­lines stated rum­ble strips should not be used in nois­esen­si­tive ar­eas, such as res­i­den­tial spa­ces. ‘‘ They knew there would be a prob­lem be­fore they did it, which is nuts.’’

He said it was ridicu­lous that only the left­hand strips would be re­moved, and said the strips were un­nec­es­sary on the ex­press­way, which had cen­tre and out­side bar­ri­ers run­ning the length of the road.

Fisher, whose prop­erty in Rau­mati is about 100 me­tres from the road, and a group of about 100 neigh­bours have cam­paigned since the ex­press­way’s open­ing in Fe­bru­ary to have noise-re­duc­tion work car­ried out. In July, they erected fake en­gine brak­ing signs, which were quickly re­moved.

While the re­moval of the strips would make a dif­fer­ence, the main noise is­sue was trucks trav­el­ling at night. That would be solved only by a wall or bund that could cost up to $40m, he said.

NZTA di­rec­tor of re­gional re­la­tion­ships Emma Speight said it was aware of com­mu­nity con­cerns about noise from the road, and had dis­cussed the is­sue di­rectly with res­i­dents.

It had ap­pointed an ex­pert re­view panel to eval­u­ate the noise, with find­ings due later this month.

‘‘We’ve also re­viewed the noise be­ing gen­er­ated by rum­ble strips to de­ter­mine whether im­prove­ments can rea­son­ably and safely be made to ad­dress the noise they gen­er­ate, and we’re re­mov­ing some rum­ble strips al­ready as part of planned re­me­dial resur­fac­ing work ...

‘‘There is no spe­cific time­line for the re­moval of rum­ble strips, as it is be­ing car­ried out as part of the resur­fac­ing work, which will con­tinue into sum­mer.’’

In Oc­to­ber, project de­liv­ery se­nior man­ager Chris Hunt said wa­ter was leak­ing through a seal be­tween the base – or pave­ment – and the as­phalt of the road, and about 14km of slow lanes would have to be re­sealed.

Gen­uine en­gine brak­ing signs, ask­ing truck driv­ers to limit the use of their en­gine brakes, had been in­stalled al­ready, and more would be added, Speight said.

‘‘We’re tak­ing a range of ac­tions to ad­dress road-traf­fic noise, in­clud­ing bring­ing for­ward work to resur­face the north­ern por­tion of the ex­press­way with a low-noise sur­face.’’

Ka¯piti Coast Mayor K Gu­runathan said he felt sorry for ev­ery­one in­volved, but was con­cerned that re­mov­ing the lines could en­dan­ger lives. NZTA was ‘‘bend­ing over back­wards to help’’ and was ‘‘caught be­tween a rock and a hard place’’ as it tried to keep mo­torists safe and rem­edy noise com­plaints, he said.

ROBERT KITCHIN/STUFF

Anti-noise protesters in­clud­ing Nick Fisher, left, erect a replica be­side the ex­press­way in July, telling truck driv­ers not to use their en­gine brakes. NZTA has now erected gen­uine signs. Above, rum­ble strips.

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