Kapiti Mayor In The Dark?

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 (Guru) said. Dominion Post, November 3 2017

The worry is after dark

By Roger Childs

Does Guru understand the issues?

Residents affected by expressway noise at night, wonder if Kapiti Mayor K Gurunathan (Guru) understands what’s been going on since the new road opened on February.

Many parts of the four lane highway do have sound walls and earth bunds to protect nearby residents from the sound of traffic; but not all.

A particular problem is the noise generated by big trucks passing through the area in the wee small hours.

Local groups have been agitating to get the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) to take measures to reduce the noise affecting residents who live close by.

Some action has belatedly been taken, but NZTA has not been bending over backwards to help as the mayor claims.

A slow programme of noise mitigation

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 — NZTA director of regional relationships Emma Speight

As a result of public meetings, complaints, and one group putting up NO ENGINE BRAKE signs, NZTA has slowly been reacting.

  • Some genuine engine brake sign have gone up with more to come.
  • Rumble strips are being removed.
  • Some resurfacing north of the Kapiti Road Interchange is underway.

There have also been well-attended public meetings held where concerned people have been able to talk to NZTA officials.

But many people wonder if anything would have happened without the initiative of residents living close to the expressway.  Problems remain.

Build the walls!

The section in greatest need of sound walls and bunds: Wharemauku Bridge to the Raumati Road bridge

One area that has no noise mitigation, is the one kilometre section between the bridges over Wharemauku Stream and Raumati Road. (See the photo alongside.)

This part of the expressway is elevated and does not have the sound walls and earth bunds which are a feature of some sections further north.

Consequently residents in Rata and Kiwi Roads and other streets which run on to them, are suffering, especially at night when houses are quiet and people are trying to sleep.

Parts of Raumati South and Waikanae have similar issues.

The DomPost reports that NZTA had appointed an expert review panel to evaluate the noise, with findings due later this month.

Mayor out of touch?

Meanwhile the Mayor seems to think that

  • NZTA is doing its best
  • It is an issue between motorist safety and limiting noise for residents.

Neither is true.

Firstly, the Transport Agency has been slow to react to complaints from the public.

Secondly, there is no way that removing rumble strips, erecting engine brake signs and constructing bunds and sound walls, will compromise the safety of the traffic passing through the residential areas.

The Mayor needs to understand the realities and support those Kapiti citizens who have genuine issues with the noise generated by the expressway.