Deadline for deviation decision looms closer
The State Highway 1 Deviation proposed for Kaiko¯ura is still likely to go ahead, although a final decision won’t be made until the end of March.
In July last year the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) proposed a 500-metre State Highway 1 road realignment along Lyell Creek to improve safety and traffic flows around the ‘‘busy and challenging’’ intersection at State Highway 1, Whaleway Station Rd, Ludstone Rd and West End.
NZTA design portfolio manager Mike Blyleven presented an update on the proposed State Highway deviation at the Kaiko¯ura District Council meeting on Wednesday.
Blyleven said the deviation would increase urban accessibility from West End as part of the wider safety improvements between Clarence and Oaro.
‘‘Obviously Kaiko¯ura has grown, referring back to 1948 when Kaiko¯ura was a very small town.’’
He said NZTA were looking to address some of the complexities around West End, with three close proximity intersections, limited visibility, poor pedestrian crossing facilities and the traffic coming down the hill.
He called the intersection ‘‘dangerous, terrifying and scary and people had to be careful’’.
There had been a massive increase in tourist traffic after the highway reopened in December.
Mayor Winston Gray said traffic had been backed up along West End to the council building at Christmas.
NZTA will make their final decision on the road on March 29 after speaking with runanga on Sunday, March 11.
Runanga o Kaiko¯ura initially opposed the deviation mainly on cultural issues, as they regarded the area to be of high cultural significance.
If NZTA decide to proceed a final design will be tabled, with construction expected to start next year.
Resident Pie Bird, whose home was scheduled to be demolished because the new road goes straight through her property said her family just wanted to move on.
Bird said six months ago she was told she would lose her house.
‘‘Limbo isn’t a good place to be,’’ she said.
NZTA and Kaiko¯ura District Council asked for public feedback on the proposal last year.
Blyleven said public submissions showed there had been more opposition than support for the road.
Many opponents were concerned the impact the road would have on businesses and properties, problems with traffic congestion, and parking along Beach Rd.
There were also environmental and geotechnical concerns, and others had asked for a full bypass.
Kaiko¯ura District Council said there was a need for assistance toward improving local road networks after the magnitude-7.8 earthquake in November 2016.
The council said they supported the proposal, but advocated for a safe pedestrian crossing or under/ over pass, and a design which took into account the flood risk from Lyell Creek.
Blyleven said modelling showed the flood risk from Lyell Creek was substantive.
‘‘If there was a flood there is a very large area which gets affected,’’ he said.
Consequently changes to the design had been made. The updated design included a pedestrian underpass, improved bike and walkway linkages, as well as better sight lines and simplified intersections, which led to costs increasing from $20 million to $25 million.
Pedestrians compete with traffic when crossing the road at the corner of Ludstone Rd, SH1 and Churchill St.