Ōtaki is bracing for more traffic disruption as Waka Kotahi plans partial closures of the Ōtaki River bridge on the old state highway.
The partial closures will allow workers to install a new 2.5 metre wide “clip-on” shared path on the eastern side of the bridge. It will mean stop/go traffic signals at the bridge. The work is part of the final stage for the Peka Peka to Ōtaki expressway project.
Although Waka Kotahi told Ōtaki Today it’s still finalising plans, it said the first closure was for up to two weeks from Monday, July 17. Traffic will be restricted to one lane with stop/go signals from 9am-4pm on weekdays only. At other times and during weekends both lanes will be open. The footpath will remain open at all times.
The second single-lane closure, possibly from September, will be much longer – from four to six months, including the busy Christmas holiday period. Stop/go will operate with one lane closed 24 hours a day every day. The time taken for the work will depend on weather, and it must be done during summer when the river level is lower, and the weather drier.
The work has not impressed businessman Sam Pritchard of Land Matters. The company is based in Addington Road, just south of the river.
“I can live with a couple of weeks disruption, but up to six months, and through the Christmas period seems ridiculous,” Sam says. “If clients or our team are coming or going into Ōtaki, as they often do, they’ll have to wait at the lights on the bridge. At busy times I can see a three-minute drive stretching out to 20 minutes or more.
“I feel sorry for the retailers who have gone through the disruption of the expressway build and now have even more traffic chaos. I don’t think they’ll be happy about more traffic delays getting into and out of the Railway area.”
Elevate Ōtaki chair Adrian Gregory says he’s talked with the Kāpiti council, which he says shares his concerns about the likely impact of the work on the community and businesses.
“Waka Kotahi has indicated to me that it is open to listening to our concerns and discussing options to reduce the impacts on our town,” Adrian says. “So I and council representatives are meeting with Waka Kotahi soon. We will keep the community posted.”
Ōtaki Community Board chair Cam Butler says the board is frustrated by the lack of notice given by Waka Kotahi.
“We’re working with KCDC staff to move this closure back in time and explore alternative options.”
Waka Kotahi’s regional manager, infrastructure delivery, Jetesh Bhula, says that details of the work are still being finalised.
“As soon as the installation methodology options are narrowed down, we will provide details to local businesses and community groups,” Jetsh says. “Kapiti Coast District Council is a key stakeholder, and we are working closely with them on this project.
“Every effort is being made to ensure we minimise, as much as possible, disruptions to residents, businesses, and road users. The community will be given notice of precise dates before the substantive part of the works begins, and bridge access is restricted.
The work is part of the expressway shared path and will ensure walkers and cyclists have a safe way to cross the bridge.
In the July closure period, the contractors (Downers) will do a 3D scan and detailed survey of the old bridge structure, and will check the modelling of traffic flows. The results will help Waka Kotahi prepare for the second, major, closure about September.
Contractors will install a steel substructure to support the new clip-on components. They need to erect scaffolding under the bridge, but it can’t sit in the riverbed because of the risk of flooding.
Instead, work crews will hang the scaffolding from the bridge deck. To do this, they need to anchor the scaffolding to the southbound lane of the bridge. This means this lane has to be closed 24 hours a day until the new cycleway components are installed. The existing footpath will be closed while this work is under way.
“However, we are mindful that pedestrians and cyclists will need access,” Jetesh says. “Work is currently under way on options to ensure they have a safe way to cross the river while this part of the project is under way.”