Transport Agency head blamed for part in SH1 death at Otaihanga blackspot
A ‘Save Kapiti’ organiser has launched an unprecedented attack on NZ Transport Agency Regional Director Jenny Chetwynd for her alleged part in contributing to a road death on SHI at Otaihanga on Friday (Sept. 30).
Bianca Begovich says: “As one of the people who made the decision to pull the funding to install wire median barriers along SH1 between Otaihanga and Waikanae, I hold you responsible for the latest addition to the death toll on this stretch of road.”
In the accident, 400 metres north of the intersection of SH1 and Otaihanga Road, a young woman travelling north was killed when her car crossed the centre line and collided with a southbound vehicle. Traffic on SHI was severely disrupted for several hours.
‘I hold you accountable’
Ms Begovich, who is a campaigner for the ‘Save Kapiti’ anti-Expressway group, says to Jenny Chetwynd:”I also hold you accountable for the lost time hundreds of commuters experienced due to the lack of an alternative western link route for them to use.
“Again, you are one of the ‘team’ who is responsible for axing this proposal.
“You and Transport Minister Steven Joyce are responsible for wasting taxpayers time, money and now lives. You stated that ‘only high-priority projects will be funded.’
Ms Begovich also poses these questions:
- “What exactly do you consider ‘high-priority?’
- “How many lives must be lost before you realise upgrades to State Highway one along this stretch are desperately needed along with a western link local road?”
And Ms Begovich says that, at a meeting with Kapiti ]Coast residents, Transport Minister Steven Joyce said that he would not stop the expressway proposal because, he was reported as saying, ‘we’ve come too far to turn back.’
Yet, Ms Begovich says, it is becoming increasingly obvious the Expressway plan is flawed on many levels.
She concludes by asking:
- “How much more money has to be wasted before you realise even your upper limit of $550 million was conservative?
- “How many more lives must be lost before you and your ‘team’ realise the only sensible solution is to upgrade SH1 and install a local western link road NOW.”
Transport Agency replies
In answer to the criticisms, the NZTA’s Wellington state highways manager, Rod James, says:
“We are saddened to hear of Friday’s fatal crash, and our thoughts are with the families and the surviving victim.
“While we don’t yet know the full circumstances of the crash, we will be investigating it thoroughly to assess what can be done to help prevent similar tragedies from happening again.
“A median barrier has been programmed for this area and was to be completed in 2012, however due to planning delays this has been deferred.
“We are very concerned by Friday’s crash and we are currently reviewing our plans for this section of highway, including the possibility of other safety measures that we can put in place sooner to reduce the risk of crashes.
“When work begins on the expressway in 2013 the risk of head on crashes on SH1 through Kapiti will be addressed permanently.
“The start of this project will also see some major improvements to the intersection of Otaihanga Road, and its approaches, that will significantly improve safety in this area well ahead of the completion of the expressway.”
That was a non-reply reply.
The decision last year to delay installing median barriers along at-risk stretches of SHI in Kapiti is now being linked to the recent fatal head-on crash near Otaihanga turnoff. Will NZTA, I wonder, use this terrible waste of a young life, and the huge traffic delay at the time, as further ‘evidence’ of the need for this so-called ‘expressway’ from McKays to Peka Peka?
Wouldn’t our money be better spent on upgrading the existing highway with interesting and imaginative 21st Century engineering solutions, that are safe and ecologically sound, to ensure continuous ‘expressway-like’ flow of four lanes through an occasionally irritating corridor of delay. Even a few dollars spent earlier on median barriers, as advocated by Dr Chris Lane, would have prevented this terrible head-on crash.
And only a fraction of the proposed and ever-ballooning expressway budget would give locals a connecting bridge and local road that would enhance and unify – rather than spoil and divide – our beautiful communities. This would provide a one-way or two-way detour for SH1 traffic if there are long delays on the main highway. And money saved could be used on Option X – a tunnel under the Basin Reserve.
The great majority of people in Kapiti abhor the idea of this proposed autobahn and are quite aware of the tricks and behaviours government has used to manipulate and deceive us and to bully our mayor. Many of us are frustrated with Mayor and Council’s effective endorsement of the Kapiti Autobahn and their misguided striving for it’s mitigation. No amount of mitigation would prevent the destruction of this community’s special character.
I suggest Ms Chetwynd advise Mr Joyce to tell his friends there’s still plenty of business to be done sorting out SH1 and building a local connecting road – and it would do his and his party’s long-term reputations and the taxpayer’s pocket a lot less harm to admit it shouldn’t be done and actually listen to what the average person is saying out here in Kapiti.
We’re just ordinary people this government has tricked and lied to and the age of lies and political machenations is over; people are beginning to wake up here and all over the world.
The proposed expressway is supposed to open in 2021. Have NZTA have taken a deliberate decision to channel funds for safety upgrades from the current SH-1 and use them on the expressway? If so they should be held accountable, if not then they should say so emphatically. I notice that Mr James uses the phrase “head on”. This would be true of a median barrier on SH-1 and is not a benefit unique to the expressway. However by allowing for two intersections and local traffic to join through traffic at 100 kph, the expressway currently designed would be less safe and more accident prone. And these accidents will be at greater speed and result in greater loss of life than the original design. A better solution would be to have local traffic go on a local route that starts at Te Moana Road, thus no through traffic and a median barrier on SH-1.
To Rod James , How can you start a project in 2013 , when your team (Nzta) haven’t the funds to purchase properties on the designed route??And your team cannot even communicate with the community as Nzta push through an extremly flawed design.And as usual , in the Nzta, the person who has asked questions of them , does not reply to challenging quesitions. You don’t even have the project through the enviroment court?? We need roading changes in the Kapiti area , just not the designed sandhill exspressway . But goodluck .