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.”