The terror of the turn

Some mornings it can be terrifying trying to get across the road with the steady stream of truck and car traffic between the hours of 05.45 and 9 am.

That’s what one resident said when talking about her usual daily commute to Wellington from Waikawa Beach. She went on to say: [I’m] taking my life into my hands turning south onto SH1 from Waikawa Beach Road.

In the last few years traffic has built up tremendously along State Highway 1 between Ōtaki and Levin. In the interests of safety NZTA made changes: now it’s 80 Kph through Manakau, rather than the previous 100 Kph, and islands at each end help to slow traffic.

But at the same time road markings that Waikawa Beach residents and regulars really liked were removed. There is still a right-turn bay for those travelling from the north who want to turn into Waikawa Beach Road.

But for all others, turning into and out of Waikawa Beach Road was made more difficult and has been an ongoing source of frustration and annoyance.

A flush-median and flexible posts have been installed along the middle of the road through that 80 Kph zone, and the turning lane for those heading south was removed. It seems many people don’t know you can turn onto the flush median while waiting to merge into the southbound lane.

Those who do know have difficulty with it for a couple of reasons: some worry how oncoming southbound drivers will react, while others complain that the flexible posts prevent them from getting up to speed while merging into southbound traffic.

To turn left into Waikawa Beach Road from the south requires moving onto the shoulder of the road while slowing and hoping following cars also slow sufficiently, given the median posts don’t allow room for them to move aside.

Even those turning north out of Waikawa Beach Road have been dinged by the changes: where previously there was room to go round the corner and wait for a gap in traffic, reshaped kerbing makes that impossible. And if two vehicles wait side-by-side at the Waikawa Beach Road Stop sign, no-one can see what traffic is heading their way. For those turning towards the south a concrete pole right on the corner impedes clear vision too.

These gripes aren’t new, but they are often repeated. Unfortunately, it seems no-one is listening.

Published in Ōtaki Today, June 2020, Page 19.

Soft median barriers between traffic on SH 1.
Soft median barriers between traffic on SH 1.
Google Maps - Waikawa Beach Road and SH1 intersection.
Google Maps - Waikawa Beach Road and SH1 intersection.
Screen shot of the article.
Screen shot of the article.
Miraz Jordan @Miraz

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