A delegation consisting of five Friends of the Waikanae Town Centre — David Sherar, Margaret Delbridge, Sue Lusk, John Osborne and Geoffrey — plus Waikanae Community Board members Jocelyn Prvanov and James Westbury, was held on Tuesday with Sean Mallon of the KCDC, Jetesh Bhula the Portfolio Manager for the project at the NZTA and Geoff Brown of Beca, the Design Manager.

Originally scheduled for an hour, the meeting lasted 90 minutes.  All the Friends and the WCB members were united in their opposition to the plans as far as the section between the Elizabeth Street and Ngaio Road intersections are concerned. Between Elizabeth Street and Te Moana Road, the plans, while not ideal, can be lived with.

It would be fair to describe the attitude of the bosses as defensive and obstinate.

Geoff Brown stated that their proposals are based on computer modelling for traffic flows.  How much population growth is allowed for in what things will be like 10, 20 and more years from now, we know not.   We do know that modelling can get that quite wrong, for example, in 2002 it was believed that Australia’s population would reach 25 million in the year 2042; in fact it will reach 25 million this month.

Geoff Brown also stated that by reducing the dimensions of an intersection, it becomes more efficient.  John Osborne replied that a cyclist coping with a turning truck and trailer as a neighbour will feel endangered.

“Safety is our main concern,” said Jetish Bhula.  “What is unsafe about what we have now?” replied Jocelyn Prvanov.

John Osborne said that best way to encourage pedestrians to and from the trains not to go across the road is to provide an underpass for them.  They can be dingy and pedestrians don’t like them, replied Sean Mallon.  Not if they’re painted white, well lighted at night and CCTV cameras are in place, as in Paraparaumu.  (But the main problem for the bosses would be that if pedestrians get an underpass, motorists would expect one under the present Elizabeth Street level crossing — heaven forbid.)

Despite their objection to their plans being changed, there were a few encouraging concessional indications: the phasing of the traffic lights at the Elizabeth Street level crossing will be changed so that once westbound motorists have crossed the railway line after waiting for a train to pass, they then don’t have another wait before they can enter the road intersection.

Geoff Brown said that he will try to include the existing second traffic lane (which shouldn’t be difficult — all he needs to do is make the median quite narrow and omit the cycle lane) plus a few other changes. And Sean Mallon said that although they want to get rid of the low stone wall opposite Elizabeth Street, their plans don’t include the trees which will stay.

There will be another meeting in the near future.