Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown says a proposed weigh station is dangerous and “should not go there”.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency announced contractors are starting to construct a split site Commercial Vehicle Safety Centre (CVSC), previously called weigh stations, just north of the Rakaia River.
Waka Kotahi director regional relationships James Caygill said the centre is being built with facilities on both sides of SH1 so truck drivers only need to turn left in and left out.
The northbound site is between Weavers Road and North Rakaia Road, north of the Rakaia rail overbridge, and the southbound site is on the opposite side of SH1 near North Rakaia Road – between the river bridge and the overhead rail bridge.
It may sit just north of his boundary, but Brown is disappointed Waka Kotahi is going ahead with the southbound facility located between the two bridges, and is contacting the chief executive of Waka Kotahi for an explanation.
“It’s a huge safety risk putting a weigh station there,” Brown said.
“Taking heavy vehicles in and out there, they are slow-moving machines that take a lot of slowing and speeding back up, and it’s going to cause a lot of disruption to traffic and potentially cause accidents.
“It’s already a sketchy stretch of road now and this is making it worse.”
Waka Kotahi is also proposing to reduce the speed on SH1 between Weavers Road and Rakaia from 100kph to 80kph, as well as the speed through the Rakaia township proposed to reduce from 70kph down to 50kph.
Even with the reduced speed in the area, Brown believes the southbound site will cause issues.
When the project was first proposed in 2019, local trucking companies ran a trial at the intersection, pulling a heavy truck and trailer onto the road, to highlight the safety concerns.
“It showed that heading north wasn’t going to work, and they did take notice of that and put two stations in,” Brown said.
“But it doesn’t alleviate the southbound issues.
“It’s not going to be as dangerous, but it will be more dangerous than before.”
It’s a logical spot to capture all southbound traffic, Brown said, “but traffic safety is logical too”.
He said that the increased safety issues also go right against Waka Kotahi’s focus on the Road to Zero campaign.
The council, along with the Automobile Association, the trucking industry and the Rakaia community are opposed to the southbound location, Brown said, and that is why he will be asking Waka Kotahi why it is surging ahead.
Waka Kotahi announced the southbound site works will start first, with the northbound site later in 2023, with both sites aimed to be complete and operational by the end of 2024 – subject to consent, contractor availability, and weather conditions.
The work will involve the construction of the centre’s buildings and site access, along with in-road scales, and electronic signage.
Other safety improvements are also still being considered along State Highway 1 from Rakaia to Rolleston, including median barriers, rural roundabouts, and turnaround facilities.
Waka Kotahi is expected to announce more on these projects later this year.
- By Jonathan Leask