A proposed State Highway 1 deviation through Kaikōura will not proceed, says the NZ Transport Agency.
“As a result of this decision, the legal designation over the proposed route and the dozen or so properties that would have been affected will lapse in June this year,” says Transport Agency Director Regional Relationships Jim Harland.
“The deviation was being investigated to improve access to Kaikōura town centre, in recognition of the safety issues turning on and off the state highway’s three key intersections (Ludstone Road, West End and Whaleway Station Road) and the expected growth in tourist numbers in the future.”
Mr Harland says the decision not to proceed took into account detailed community feedback including cultural sensitivities, additional flood modelling, geotechnical inspections of the proposed route and detailed cost estimations, which added significantly to the earlier estimated cost.
Although there have been crashes at the intersections in the past ten years, it is a relatively low speed environment and there have been no fatality or serious injury crashes in recent years.
Transport Agency consultation on the proposed deviation last year found that more than half (56%) of respondents did not want the deviation. Many people were concerned about the impact upon affected property owners or they requested other solutions such as a full highway bypass of the town.
Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura was strongly opposed to the highway deviation as it would have gone through a culturally sensitive area.
All options have been considered by the Transport Agency. While the proposed deviation was identified as the best option to increase safety, the expected cost of around $30 million, combined with community opposition, meant the project could not be justified given the relatively low crash numbers, Mr Harland says.
“However, safety issues are still front of mind for the Transport Agency and we will now look at alternative options on the current road alignment to address these concerns with our partners in Kaikōura,” says Mr Harland.
These may include:
The Transport Agency will continue to work with Kaikōura District Council to monitor tourism growth, traffic growth and network performance.
“We understand that this has been a stressful time for affected parties, both those property owners on the designated route and those property owners who would have lost their position on the state highway. We thank everyone for their patience while this decision has been investigated and finalised over the past few months,” Mr Harland says.