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The Expressway opened to traffic on Friday 24 February 2017, four months earlier than originally scheduled. Before that, over 20,000 members of the community attended a Kāpiti Coast ExpressDay, on Saturday 18 February which gave them a chance to experience part of the Expressway before driving on it.
Keep an eye on our Express Lane newsletter and local papers to keep in the loop about the final finishing works around the road or sign up at expresslane.buzzit.co.nz/subscribe (external link) if you haven’t already.
View this info sheet: An overview of different aspects of the operational Expressway including how pavement performance, water and noise levels and plantings will be monitored and managed. [PDF, 1.7 MB]
We want to remind people to take care and be alert while they’re driving through and around Kāpiti, especially if it’s their first time using the Expressway. It will take time to get used to the new layout and the way the Expressway links in with some adjoining local roads.
In particular, people travelling northbound on the Expressway should be aware that the last exit for Peka Peka is the Te Moana Road Interchange at Waikanae, and people travelling southbound should be aware that the last exit for Raumati is at the Kāpiti Road Interchange.
As with any new piece of infrastructure there will be a settling in and adjustment period. We’re working with the Wellington Transport Operations Centre to monitor traffic flows and behaviours over the coming weeks and we’re ready to deal with safety matters if and when they occur.
You’ll continue to see quite a bit of final construction work going on in the area. Over the next few months work will carry on around the Poplar Avenue Interchange and Raumati Straights at the south end, and the Peka Peka Interchange at the north end of the Expressway, as well as on some local roads, to build additional roundabouts, complete the local connections to the Expressway and finish road surfacing and barrier installation.
While this work continues, traffic management, lane closures and speed restrictions will occasionally be in place. We’re grateful for your patience and understanding with the works to date, and we’re asking you to bear with us a little longer as we finish off these remaining works.
As with any new piece of infrastructure, it will take time for everyone to get used to the changes to traffic controls around the roads connecting to the Expressway, and also for the traffic signals team to ensure they do the best job they can in managing the ebbs and flows of traffic.
Live cameras are set up at the interchange lights and the Wellington Transport Operations Centre monitor these 24/7 and phasing is tweaked where necessary. Over time as behaviour normalises, and regular traffic patterns form, the traffic lights will be set up in regular day-to-day phases and will adjust as necessary based on traffic patterns.
We’re thankful that everyone’s being patient and understanding, and we’re asking people to bear with us a little longer as things normalise.
The decision to make Poplar Avenue and Peka Peka Road partial interchanges was made by the Board of Inquiry. In summary the decision was about the Expressway operating as a regional rather than a local connection and recognising that the existing State Highway 1 will become safer and more reliable for local traffic once the Expressway is open. Another consideration was around managing urban development.
The Board of Inquiry Assessment of Environmental Effects covers this in more detail. It can be found here.
Local roads work much the same as they used to. The main difference is that local traffic uses the partial interchange to go to and from the north (Ōtaki, for example). Also, there is a new link road that crosses over the Expressway to connect the existing highway and Peka Peka Road. Local traffic also use this road to access the northbound on-ramp of the Expressway.
To go to or from the south (Waikanae for example), traffic can use the original highway, or road-users can connect to the Expressway at Te Moana Road or Kāpiti Road.
The partial interchange at Poplar Avenue has south facing ramps. So local traffic use it to go south on the Expressway and to leave the Expressway when coming north from Mackays Crossing.
As at Peka Peka, the local road network stays much the same.
To use the Expressway to go north, local traffic can drive on the original highway route or connect at the Kāpiti Road interchange in Paraparaumu.
The expressway has been designed and built to accommodate use by road cyclists, with ample shoulder width provided for safe cycling. An expressway is different from a motorway - while an expressway is a high quality, high speed road with limited interchanges with local roads, cyclists or slow-moving vehicles are not excluded from using an expressway as they are on a motorway.
The shared pathway which has been built alongside the expressway has been designed as a recreational facility to provide an additional option for cyclists. While the shared pathway is the safest option for cyclists, the surface of the shared pathway and the fact that it can also be used by pedestrians, skateboarders, scooter riders, and horse riders, means that while it will suit some bike riders, others may prefer to use the shoulder of the expressway - particularly fast-riding road cyclists.
We encourage road cyclists who choose to use the Expressway shoulder to keep themselves safe by keeping as far left as possible, and we encourage drivers to take care and act considerately when passing them.
The safest route for cyclists, especially for less experienced cyclists, is be a 3-metre wide shared walking and cycling path alongside the Expressway route. North of Mazengarb Road and in the south parts between Raumati Road and Queen Elizabeth Park, horse riding will be possible next to the path.
The path will connect to the existing local network of shared cycle paths. There will also be two bridges across the Expressway for cyclists and walkers – one at Poplar Avenue and one behind Makarini Street in Paraparaumu.
Shared pathways are created for everyone to enjoy, which means all users need to be considerate of other users. Everyone using shared paths are required by law to use the paths fairly and safely, and to try and not hold anyone up. So while you’re out enjoying this new facility, please make sure you:
The 18 bridges on the Expressway are among the strongest transport structures in the country. All have been designed to withstand the combined effects of large (one in 2500 years) earthquakes and liquefaction. Many learnings from Christchurch have been considered, as well as international seismic design standards.
Much of the evidence of the ground breaking innovation used is underground. As an example, the project has gone to great lengths to improve the ground at the bridges to stop liquefaction around the bridge foundations. At the Waikanae River for example the piles of the new bridge are 3m in diameter and up to 40m deep.
For more information you might like to check out these clips on our YouTube channel that show the team explaining what they’ve been doing:
State Highway 1 between MacKays Crossing and Peka Peka is the only route in Kāpiti for many local trips as well as for through-traffic heading to and from Wellington. It was never designed for such heavy use. As a result the road has a history of crashes, congestion and unreliable travel times.
State Highway 1 traffic has shifted to the new Expressway. This separates local traffic from vehicles heading to and through Kāpiti and make trips safer, with more reliable journey times.
The Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway part of the upgrade to the Wellington Northern Corridor between Wellington Airport and Levin.
At its southern end, the new Expressway will connect to Transmission Gully. In the north it will connect to the Peka Peka to Ōtaki section.
Four route options were considered during the planning and consultation for the MacKays Crossing to Peka Peka section of the Wellington Northern Corridor.
An expressway that mostly followed the route protected by the Kāpiti Coast District Council for a Western Link Road was preferred because it:
The Board of Inquiry Assessment of Environmental Effects covers this in more detail.
Kāpiti is one of New Zealand’s fastest growing areas. Its population is expected to grow by 65,000 in the next 20 years. The new Expressway supports this growth by providing a safer and shorter route to and through Kāpiti for local residents, businesses and visitors.
With State Highway 1 traffic using the Expressway, the town centres of Waikanae and Paraparaumu can become more people-friendly. A dedicated cycle facility along the length of the expressway aims to make cycling more attractive and safe. And 140 hectares of new native plantings and 9.5 hectares of new or restored wetlands aims to make the district more attractive for both people and nature.
When the NZ Transport Agency builds new roads, the roads they being replaced are often no longer required as State Highways. The Agency gives the roads back to a local roading authority – typically the district council. This handover process is called ‘revocation’. You can read more about this process for Kāpiti below in the SH1 Revocation section.
Again the best way is to use the project’s M2PP INFO number (0508 627 746) or email email@example.com.
The stretch of existing SH1 between Poplar Avenue in Raumati South and Te Kowhai Road in Peka Peka is no longer be required to operate as a state highway now that the Expressway is open.
The NZ Transport Agency has 24 months from the opening of the Expressway to remove the state highway classification from SH1 between Poplar Avenue and Te Kowhai Road and hand the road to the Kāpiti Coast District Council. This is a formal process, known as ‘revocation’.
The NZ Transport Agency and the Kāpiti Coast District Council are working in partnership to design and deliver a fit-for-purpose local road that improves the district’s resilience and enhances connectivity through and across the district.
In particular, the Project seeks to improve accessibility through the Paraparaumu and Waikanae town centres, improve connections to and from rail and bus hubs, and enhance cycling and walking options between Poplar Avenue and Peka Peka.
The Project will consider a variety of factors including quality of the road, kerbs, shared paths, cycle lanes, planting and urban design, speed limits, and renaming of the road.
Although the road will largely operate as a local arterial road, it will still have to function as an emergency bypass route between Poplar Avenue and Peka Peka in the event of an incident on the Expressway. This will be a key factor in the design of any improvements.
It is important that the new local road works well for the community it serves. We’ve been engaging with the Kāpiti Coast community since 2011 when we undertook initial consultation on the future of the existing SH1, including two expos.
Revocation is a formal process involving consultation with the Transport Minister and publication of a notice in the New Zealand Gazette. It involves ‘revoking’ (or ‘removing’) a road’s status as a State Highway and transferring responsibility for its maintenance from the Transport Agency to the district council (in this case, Kāpiti Coast District Council).
In practice, before the State Highway status of a road can be ‘revoked’, the Agency has to ensure that the road is fit-for-purpose under its new status as a local road. This can include removing lanes or passing lanes, changing speed limits, removing restrictions on access, improving intersections, and adding provisions for pedestrians and cyclists. The district council may wish to input funding to allow improvements above that provided by the Agency or to improve ‘streetscaping’ – things like landscape planting, seats, footpath paving, and artwork.
Visit (external link) the Kāpiti Coast District Council’s website, and learn more about the revocation process from the Council’s perspective.
This report [PDF, 2.9 MB] outlines the findings of a human factors review into truck rollover crashes that have occurred at the SH 1/Otaihanga Roundabout. The roundabout is located 3.3km north of Paraparumu on SH1.
Speed limits through roundabouts and at many other intersections in New Zealand have the rural speed limit of 100km/h. Roundabouts are designed so that, particularly in higher speed areas, the approaches alert drivers that they are approaching intersection and encourage them to slow to a suitable speed. Of the trucks that have rolled over traveling north through the intersection we are not aware that any have been traveling faster than 50km/h. In this respect a lower speed limit is unlikely to have had any impact on the speed of the trucks through the roundabout.
The roundabout has been constructed in order to improve the safety of the intersection with the increase in construction traffic for the MacKays to Peka Peka expressway. Currently the traffic flows on the highway are too high for the roundabout to work as a single lane. Once the expressway is open we will re-assess the traffic flows and work with KCDC to determine what the best layout is for the change in environment and its future use.
Each truck and trailer has a different dimension and weight distribution. This determines the speed at which it can safely travel through the roundabout. This speed can change for the same truck depending on the type of load it has and how high that load is.
In late 2016 additional signage for trucks was placed at the roundabout indicating a need for caution in this area, including a recommended speed of 25 km/h.
The friction between tyres and the road surface is predominantly designed to keep vehicles on the road. Although this friction is affected by the camber of the road, this effect is greatly reduced at speeds of 60km/h and below. Changing the camber to fall inwards would only affect the speed at which you can drive around the roundabout by a few kilometres an hour. This would not be enough to affect vehicle stability, however it may influence the level of comfort drivers feel when circulating and therefore encourage them to reduce their speeds slightly.
At the moment all vehicles using the roundabout experience the same slope through the intersection. If the roundabout sloped inwards as a truck entered the roundabout the truck unit itself would be sloping one way while the trailer sloped the other; the opposite would then happen as the truck exited the roundabout. This ‘twist’ between the driver’s experience and the trailer unit is undesirable and can also lead to instability.
The roundabout has the same radius all the way around. For the majority of roundabouts the ‘straight through’ path is literally straight ahead. In the case of Otaihanga the exit is further round to the right than drivers anticipate and is more akin to a right turn. This may be contributing to the feeling that the radius is tightening.
There are many roundabouts on the state highway network of a similar size and therefore with similar radius curves to this one. However, every roundabout has a unique context and the relationship with the adjacent roads has a key influence on the look and feel of the intersection and the way in which it is driven. One of the key influences on the design of this particular intersection was the tight radius curve on the old SH1 into which this roundabout was inserted.
Outward sloping roundabouts are designed and built all over the world. Although they may create a less comfortable feeling for drivers, this has the positive safety effect of encouraging them to reduce their speed. The main reasons for sloping the circulating carriageway outwards are:
We have looked at the signage on each approach and there are four individual signs on the approach to the roundabout from the south to alert drivers that there is a roundabout ahead and that they need to prepare to give way. There are also pavement markings indicating that there is an intersection ahead. We are not aware of any crashes at the intersection that have involved drivers using the intersection for the first time. This implies that they would all have been aware of the intersection in time for them to adjust their speed.
The roundabout is designed to encourage drivers to slow down as they approach the intersection. This means that will be in control as they go through the intersection and can then increase their speed when they reach their exit. The SH1 exit heading north provides this opportunity, however, due to physical construction constraints, the northbound exit is further to the right than drivers may expect.
Our traffic counts show about 23,000 vehicles a day go through the roundabout and about 9%, or 2070 of these are trucks. This means just over 1000 trucks go through the roundabout heading north every day. This represents around a million truck movements (in both directions) since the roundabout opened at Easter 2014.
Roundabouts are widely used at locations where there are crash problems. Roundabouts do require people to drive at lower speeds, and they also reduce the angle at which vehicles can collide. These two factors result in a significantly reduced chance of a serious crash happening compared with a standard ‘T’ intersection or intersections with traffic lights. The installation of this roundabout has already dramatically reduced the previous high crash risk when it operated as a T intersection. World-wide, roundabouts are proven to be the safest form of at-grade intersection.
The road rules require all road users to give way to vehicles already using the roundabout and therefore check that the roundabout is clear before entering. However we know that drivers do make mistakes and, as mentioned above, one of the key benefits of roundabouts is that the result of these mistakes is far less likely to be serious crashes. They are much safer in this respect than other forms of at-grade intersection.
When the roundabout first opened, residents on the side road that comes off the roundabout had difficulty accessing their property as southbound drivers on SH1 thought they were turning to go south on SH1. We worked with the Mackays to Peka Peka Alliance design team and our Road Safety Audit team to come up with the best way to address this concern. The markings, known as ‘turbo markings’, are used to direct drivers into the left hand lane, and make the intended actions of those drivers accessing the side road for property access more apparent to southbound motorists.
We are looking to add signs to the outside of the roundabout to help show drivers that the exit is further around than they may have anticipated. We will also look at what other measures we can implement to make the curve of the roundabout more obvious for drivers.