Woodend Pegasus SH1 Corridor – the Woodend Bypass shouldn’t be Bypassed
On 6 June a meeting was held at the Woodend Tavern to discuss the safety, speed and congestion of SH1 through Woodend and surrounds. This was organised by MP Matt Doocey and attended by the Hon Simon Bridges. Many of our local groups were represented including Woodend School, Netball Club, Rugby Club, various child care facilities, the Fire Brigade, the Woodend Community Association (WCA), Pegasus Residents’ Group (PRGI), Pegasus Golf & Sport Club, Community Boards, Mayoral hopefuls, some business owners, as well as many concerned residents of whom a number have attended accidents or witnessed near misses. Matt Doocey outlined the concerns, followed by Mark Paterson representing the WCA.
Some interesting figures:
- Traffic counts through Woodend vary but one figure is 16,000 vehicles per day, of which 11% are heavy vehicles. Up-to-date figure should be available soon
- The current population of Waimakariri is 60,700. Over the next 30 years the population is expected to grow to somewhere between 85,000 and 108,500
- Woodend and Pegasus are growing rapidly and Waimakariri is the third-fastest growing district in the country
- Between Belfast and the Ashley bridge 8 people have died and 49 seriously injured in accidents between 2008 and 2017
If nothing changes the current challenges, congestion, and safety issues will only get worse.
Once the meeting was opened up for everyone to have their say it was apparent that there were common themes. While waiting for the Woodend Bypass, something needs to be done now as the Bypass is not even in the 10-year plan. The traffic situation is having serious implications for residents, pedestrians and drivers.
Pedestrian safety at the school crossing, other parts of Woodend and at the Pegasus roundabout was of major concern to all. A key worry is the crossing used by students of Woodend School, which a local police officer acknowledges is the second most dangerous crossing in North Canterbury.
One resident witnessed a near miss at the school when she gave way for a young child to cross the road, but a truck coming from the opposite direction did not stop. Miraculously the child was not hit. Another spokesperson questioned why there is no over or under pass by the school. The statement that ‘even cows in NZ get looked after better than our own children’ received support from those present and lightened the mood a little.
The speed limit coming into Woodend from the South was also identified as a concern to most and this was felt to be an easy fix, yet the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) Safer Road Project seems to have made no progress since their consultation with residents over 18 months ago.
Other issues included the narrowness of the Ashley bridge and also major difficulties turning right from side roads onto SH1.
A local man who attended last year’s accident between a truck and car between Sandhills Road and Woodend asked why something cannot be done immediately to address these safety issues and if NZTA will not fund the improvements does the local community need to try and fundraise for this.
When Simon Bridges addressed the group, he acknowledged the issues and said that National were committed to the bypass.
The NZTA safety plan which will be released next month highlights and offers practical solutions to our major concerns and if implemented will help with many of the safety concerns, but it is not budgeted for at this stage. Simon Bridges advised the group not to let any proposed safety improvements distract us from the Bypass as 16,000 cars per day meets the criteria for a Bypass.
Many left the meeting frustrated as once again it felt like all talk and no action. Until there is money allocated to the roading issue nothing will be done. Perhaps it is time for community action, we need to highlight the issue publicly and get the Government’s attention. NZTA is the middle man and we have talked long enough and have to get the Government to step up with the funding for the Bypass.
To this end a sub-committee was formed with representatives of the Woodend Community Association and the Pegasus Residents’ Group. There is also input from a local Community Board Member and the Woodend School. This group is keen to see the safety project going ahead but in tandem we want to bring the Bypass back to the table as this will give the best solution to a town that is divided by SH1, provide the safety and environment benefits needed, and reduce the travel time that the safety improvements will add.
We need your help. To highlight and publicise the very real dangers and problems we need details of near misses, incidents, accidents, issues and concerns with SH1 between the Ashley Bridge and the Pineacres corner. Please e-mail us the details to makeSH1safe@gmail.com.
Mark Paterson (WCA) Ph 027 534 9112