Roberts Line Safety

Residents of Kelvin Grove will be meeting on Friday to discuss ongoing road safety issues with the Roberts Line/Napier Road intersection at the entrance to Palmerston North City.

I am convinced the problem is actually far wider than just the danger at Roberts Line/Napier Road. It is all about speeds and intersection design all the way into Palmerston North City. I will be attending the meeting as both a resident of KG and as a council candidate for 2016.

I believe the issue is a result of a failure, of longer term planning for urban growth in the Kelvin Grove area and Summerhill/Turitea areas, to be properly integrated with NZTA planning and funding for SH3/Napier Road/Gorge and other highways including SH3/Rangitikei Line, SH54/Milson Line, SH57/Tennent Drive/Old West Road/Summerhill/Aokautere Drive/Fitzherbert East Road.

We still have issues with Napier Road at the Keith Street intersection (2 redesigns and it's still a bad intersection), and there are similar growing issues with high speed intersections at Stoney Creek Road (Whakarongo School corner) and James Line (more urban housing development nearby).

Although there have been turning lane trials and reduced speed limits around Roberts Line, the expansion of Palmerston North City boundaries hasn’t seen a coordinated change of status from State Highway to urban arterial (with speed limits and roundabout designs being dependent on road status). Some of this could be laid at PNCCs door, but also at the door of NZTA.

A bit more background to these issues: There was some cooperation a while back (2007/8) with ill-thought-out and ultimately rejected plan for a massive bypass of Palmerston North. This was associated with the proposal to put a second bridge across the Manawatu river in the Te Matai road area, to close Milson Line at the Airport, and to bypass Bunnythorpe.

The 2008 plan failed because the main driver was a funding trick - the plan was to close Milson Line (the benefit claimed, was to allow a longer runway with extended safety zone) thus increasing traffic on Railway Road, Stoney Creek Road and Kairanga-Bunnythorpe Road, which would raise the roads' "status" in the NZTA classification system and thus attract greater government funding, because of the increased traffic and safety issues.

Also, there was an associated plan to link the bridge location with a lagoon to be built on the Aokautere side of the river, with expensive lakeside property development to benefit from this ratepayer/taxpayer project.

The large scale plan fell apart when users of Milson Line began to protest the disruption this plan would have on thousands of trips between the urban centres, and in the end, the plan's shaky justification didn't convince the environment court. I was there for the hearings.

Current NZTA plans are summarised here;