Ōtaki MP Tim Costley addressed a crowd protesting the closure of the southern lane across the Waikanae Bridge which is planned to be in place for about five months.
The works, which don’t appear to be happening over weekends have created a great deal of opposition not only from Waikanae residents but also from those affected by the detours and gridlock this is causing on Kāpiti Road.
Mr Costley says New Zealand has been overtaken by a culture of compliance, not judgement, and the Waikanae Bridge is just one more example. This culture shift is costing us our competitive edge, this is costing us effectiveness and efficiency, this is costing all of us, he says.
“To our bridge, which is being shut to south-bound traffic for up to five months (you read that right: five months!) so a new footpath, which is built off-site, can be attached to existing supports.
“NZTA have said that the closure of the southbound lane on the Waikanae River Bridge is their final decision. I believe it is the wrong decision. I’ve heard the concerns that almost everyone in our community shares about in the inefficiency of this, the ineffectiveness, and the obvious second-order safety impacts on other roads during detours. I’ve written to NZTA, I’ve spoken with them, I’ve asked them to meet with me, I’ve spoken with the Minister of Transport, he’s spoken with NZTA too. NZTA are firm that this was committed to by the previous Government and so it will go ahead as is and as it’s already paid for.”
Mr Costley, himself a Waikanae resident, says compliance is driving the traffic management solution.
“The ‘easiest’ solution for NZTA appears to be to isolate all immediate traffic management challenges and just make south-bound traffic someone else’s problem. That is easiest for the contractors on the bridge, but we need to look at the whole system. What about people who live just south of the bridge now driving the long way around to get the kids home from school? What about elderly whose licence stops them driving on the expressway and can’t cross the river now? What about ducking to the shops or visiting friends? What about the extra traffic forced onto other roads? Yes, we need to accept inconvenience for the bigger picture, but are there better options.
“NZTA don’t want to have the bridge open sometimes and closed others because we might all get confused. I think we’re pretty smart. I’m sure we could all have accepted a few days, even a few weeks, of bridge closure if it was targeted and there was active work going on at the time but do we need such a blunt approach? I’ll be pushing for a faster and more concentrated work time.”
Waikanae Ward councillor Nigel Wilson told the group NZTA’s so-called improvements to the Waikanae Main Rd over the last two years already created chaos in Waikanae town and many businesses and residents were badly affected.
“This is more of the same. There are clearly better solutions available and I am calling for a public meeting with all parties involved to define these and act in the best interests of our community. Five more months of this is completely unacceptable,” said Mr Wilson.