Expressway sheds ‘grumble strips’
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.
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.