To improve safety and journey times around Paekākāriki Hill Road, the NZ Transport Agency, Kāpiti Coast District Council, Porirua City Council and NZ Police will continue to close the road on Fridays during peak hours in the long term.
Closures of Paekākāriki Hill Road have been in place on Fridays between 3pm and 7pm since November 2018, as part of a trial to test the impact of closing the road on safety and journey times.
The Transport Agency’s Regional Transport Systems Manager Mark Owen says Paekākāriki Hill Road is a steep and winding road that can be challenging to drive, especially during peak times.
“The extra traffic using Paekākāriki Hill Road at peak times are at a higher risk of crashes, both on the road itself and when merging with traffic on State Highway 1 at Paekākāriki,” Mr Owen says.
“An estimated 710 vehicles would regularly use the less-safe Paekākāriki Hill Road during Friday peak times, with 610 travelling north and merging with traffic on State Highway 1 at Paekākāriki. During the trial closures these vehicles took other routes instead, resulting in reduced safety risks.”
The significant number of vehicles that used the road as a shortcut and exited onto State Highway 1 at Paekākāriki would also cause considerable delays for southbound and northbound traffic.
“During the trial closures we have observed significantly improved journey times of between three to 25 minutes for almost half of road users,” Mr Owen says.
“Now we’ve passed the busy Christmas, New Year, Wellington Anniversary, Easter and Anzac Day peak traffic volumes, we’ve observed the most recent Friday closures have had greater journey time savings, especially later in the peak period between 5pm–7pm.
“In the past six Fridays, over 2,034 road users have experienced journeys of between 15 to 25 minutes shorter, and another 1,579 with journeys of three to 15 minutes shorter.
“We do appreciate that there are approximately 171 road users who are experiencing journeys of between 15 to 25 minutes longer, and 393 with journeys of three to 15 minutes longer, as they are required to take a detour on a longer, but safer route.
“The safety benefits and improved journey times, along with feedback from road users and locals, have factored into our decision to continue the closures in the long-term, while we continue to monitor the benefits.
“In addition to the Friday peak-time closures, we will also look at closing the road during other busy periods such as public holidays.”
“Friday evenings can be a busy time on State Highway 1 for drivers heading north. We’re pleased the NZ Transport Agency will be continuing with this important step in improving the safety and travel times of Kāpiti commuters,” says Sean Mallon, Kāpiti Coast District Council Group Manager Infrastructure Services.
Porirua City Council Transport Manager Darrell Statham says the move to implement the recently trialed road closures long term is a sensible one, making Paekākāriki Hill Road safer for residents and improving the wider network journey experiences.
“Removing unnecessary additional traffic volumes from this narrow, winding road reduces the local safety risk for residents and, given the trial closures have also improved wider network journey experiences which in turn reduces safety risks elsewhere, we continue to support this simple win-win initiative.”
As with the trial closures, Paekākāriki Hill Road residents and others working or visiting properties on the road will be able to enter from the State Highway 1 at Paekākāriki and Pauatahanui.
Emergency services will have full access to Paekākāriki Hill Road at all times and if there is an emergency on the highway, the closure will be lifted so that the road can be used as a detour.
The most recent full closure results including journey times can be viewed here.