Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown will get his explanation from Waka Kotahi NZTA over its decision to proceed with a weigh station he believes is in a dangerous place.
Brown will meet with Waka Kotahi representatives on February 23 at the site of the planned split-site Commercial Vehicle Safety Centre (CVSC), previously called weigh stations, just north of the Rakaia River.
The mayor is bewildered Waka Kotahi is persisting with the “huge safety risk” of putting a site between the Rakaia rail overbridge and the Rakaia River bridge.
“We hope to change their mind but they will have their safety engineers there who will explain to us how it is going to be safe,” Brown said.
“Keeping overweight trucks off the road is about safety, but having trucks exiting and entering the highway is too.
“Safety is what we are after.”
It is the exact location that had the project delayed in 2019 over safety concerns and Waka Kotahi insist those concerns have been allayed by the split-site model.
The Selwyn District Council agreed, signing off the plans, but Brown, transport industry representatives, and the AA disagree.
“Waka Kotahi have listened and removed the right turn issues by putting in the northbound site,” Brown said.
The issue remained the access to and from the southbound site between the two bridges is unsafe Brown said, even with proposed speed reductions.
Waka Kotahi is proposing to lower the speed limit from the Rakaia township boundary to Weavers Road to 80kph, as well as having variable 60kph zones associated with the traffic movements from the CVSC.
AA’s Canterbury/West Coast chairman, John Skevington, is also disappointed Waka Kotahi has chosen to proceed, and said the activity will disrupt traffic and increase the likelihood of crashes.
“We believe the distance between the bridges is too short for its safe operation,” Skevington said.
Under the Government’s road to zero approach, he said “roads should be designed to minimise the risks of a mistake causing serious harm”.
“This location doesn’t fit with that approach.”
Waka Kotahi and its experts will demonstrate how they perceive it to be safe, but Brown said there remained some hope they would change the location.
While work on the southbound site is yet to begin, the in-road weigh scales for the northbound site are being installed in Rakaia.
Adding to the criticism of the project – its location, not its purpose – the site selection for the scales has also been criticised.
“I thought it could have gone closer to the bridge,” Brown said.
“If someone wants to avoid it, they could as there is an opportunity to go around.”
The roadworks were met with frustration as Rakaia locals believed they had started without adequate consultation.
- By Jonathan Leask