Good progress is being made to attach a shared path to the Waikanae River bridge on old State Highway 1, on the Kāpiti Coast, as motorists grapple with detours and queues.
The clip-on shared path is being constructed to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists crossing the bridge.
But construction has meant two lanes have been reduced to a single lane for northbound traffic, while southbound traffic has to detour via an expressway.
The detour has seen traffic queued along Te Moana Rd as well as backed up past the Paraparaumu off-ramp which has been a hot topic of conversation on social media.
Adding further to the frustration has been the project’s timeframe with completion expected in May or June.
“We know the traffic changes for this work mean longer journeys for many people and that there is extra traffic on the detour route,” infrastructure delivery regional manager Jetesh Bhula said.
“We understand that this changes people’s daily routines and can be frustrating. We have considered the alternatives, including a stop/go on the bridge.
“The one-way detour is the best approach, considering traffic flow and safety. The traffic management plan was signed off by both NZTA/Waka Kotahi and Kāpiti Coast District Council (KCDC) traffic management co-ordinators, who are trained to assess traffic management plans and have knowledge of the local network. Experience of previous stop/go in the area showed that this resulted in long queues, delays, and safety issues.”
Bhula said the agency’s Wellington Transport Operations Centre (WTOC) was actively monitoring the detour route and adjusting the traffic lights’ phasing to minimise queues as much as possible.
“We are working hard to reduce the queues by constantly making changes in response to traffic flows. The WTOC team also manage electronic signage on the expressway to alert drivers if there are queues.”
Bhula said the project, still projected to cost $1.9 million, was “progressing well”.
“The first steps in the project include building foundations for the new walking and cycling path at both ends of the bridge. Over the last two weeks, we have dug out the foundation sites and poured the first concrete. We have also removed the bridge’s old side barrier and added a temporary railing in its place.
“We are currently building a platform for the 220-tonne crane that crews will use to lift the custom-designed, prefabricated path sections on to the bridge. The five sections that will span the river have been assembled at our contractors’ yard in Otaihanga. As oversize loads, they’ll be carefully transported to the site, one by one, once the foundations are complete. We will then attach each one, in turn, securely to the bridge brackets.”
The prefabricated bridge trusses were specifically designed and built for the Waikanae River bridge.
“Earlier in the project, some alterations were made after issues with an initial design. This is not delaying the current construction work. The contractors were required to do this within the existing contract price at no extra cost to NZTA/Waka Kotahi and KCDC. There are now no issues with the trusses.”
The project was still expected to run until May/June.
“We are working with our contractors to identify opportunities to accelerate the work, as we understand the detour is disruptive. We will keep the community updated if project timeframes change.”