Carterton District Council [CDC] will keep the northbound lane closed along the length of Hughes Line to all traffic until August – despite locals’ mounting frustration.
The lane closure, which makes no exception for emergency services or residents, is in place to reduce traffic on Hughes Line – which has increased due to ongoing SH2 roadworks – and prevent deterioration.
But some locals are asking for a more common-sense approach.
Hughes Line resident Neil Carr has admitted to breaking the rule to rush his 82-year-old neighbour north to the hospital after she had an allergic reaction to a wasp sting.
“The ambulance couldn’t have got there in time and, if we followed the rules, she could have been in serious danger,” Carr said.
“Quite a lot of work went into meeting with the council to sort out the traffic problems, but this over-the-top requirement isn’t really serving the community.”
Andrew Wilkinson, another Hughes Line resident, said he and his family collectively made six trips to Masterton every day.
“Now we have to go all the way back to Clareville and then up through the roadworks at 50kph, which is a big extra cost in fuel, road user charges, and time,” Wilkinson said.
Although he could take it on the nose if the closure were in place for two weeks, Wilkinson said two months is extreme.
“They’ve already wrecked our road, and now we have to sit through this for another two months.”
A letter sent to CDC in May urgently requesting the council remedy the dangerous road conditions created by excess traffic avoiding the SH2 roadworks was endorsed by more than 60 Hughes Line residents.
The letter contained many safety recommendations but did not include a recommendation to close the northbound lane of Hughes Line to all traffic.
CDC chief executive Geoff Hamilton reported to council in June that keeping the northbound lane closed until the SH2 roadworks project finishes in August was the best course of action.
“We are aware that this would be a frustration to some; however, we believe that this is driving the best outcome for our community,” he said.
Hamilton said the lane closure applies to all traffic, including emergency services.
“Council does not support granting a small group of Hughes Line residents higher priority access on public roads than is afforded to emergency services,” he said, adding that a residents-only system would be impossible to enforce.
Hamilton said that removing the northbound lane closure would cause all Wairarapa commuters to lose the benefits of reducing traffic volume – including the number of logging trucks, and dangerous passing and overtaking – especially given that poor driver behaviour was one of the main reasons for the lane closure in the first place.
“We understand there are some people who are frustrated by the lane closure, but we have reduced the immediate traffic volume and subsequently improved the safety of all road users and saved ratepayer money – by reducing premature deterioration of the road.
“Premature deterioration is very costly to ratepayers and therefore important for us to manage where possible.”