A national environmental standard for road traffic noise is urgently needed, a PCE investigation into noise and air pollution from the Hawke's Bay Expressway has found. That is one of 14 recommendations in a report which traces many of the problems back to past planning failures.
While the expressway has always been designated as Hawke's Bay's major arterial road, it originally passed through mainly rural land. Now houses run alongside about one-fifth of its length and several hundred people live within 60 metres of it.
The PCE investigated after Napier residents who live near the expressway complained about traffic noise and air pollution. Among the recommendations are several practical steps to deal with their immediate problems, such as reducing engine braking, cutting the maximum speed on the expressway, and using quieter road surfaces.
At another level are steps to develop a more 'big picture' approach to regional transport planning. Instead of simply building more roads to cater for future traffic demand, the report calls for a more integrated approach that promotes alternatives such as buses, cycles, and trains, and greater coordination between land-use and transport planning.