NZTA’s Mark Owen, right, and Emma Speight, Wairarapa Road Safety Council’s Bruce Pauling, Carterton Mayor John Booth and Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson discussing options at Ngaumutawa Rd.
PHOTO/CAL ROBERTS

Local knowledge tapped to reduce crash rate on SH2

CAL ROBERTS
cal.roberts@age.co.nz

Roundabouts and strategically-placed median and roadside barriers got the nod from the Carterton and Masterton mayors inspecting the stretch of State Highway 2 between the two towns yesterday with staff from the New Zealand Transport Agency.

You can’t beat local knowledge – that’s NZTA’s attitude when it comes to improving safety on the road.

On Tuesday, they were seeking residents’ feedback and ideas at a drop-in meeting at Solway School.

The project is part of the Safe Roads and Roadsides Programme, which aims to reduce deaths and improve crash statistics on rural roads nationwide.

Carterton Mayor John Booth and Masterton’s Lyn Patterson fully-backed roundabouts at key intersections along SH2.

Patterson called them “a must”, and Booth agreed.

“Absolutely, couldn’t be more passionate,” Booth said.

“We need both.”

NZTA regional transport systems manager Mark Owen said NZTA had to weigh all options against a scale of common sense and compromise between all road users and wanted to hear from everybody.

“We want to hear the full community perspective. The people who drive it every day, and those who have to live and work in the area.”

Owen said the reason for bringing the project to Wairarapa was simple.

“It’s the crash rate, what we’re trying to do is make that whole route safer.”

From 2000 to 2017, there had been more than 230 crashes — five of them fatal — on the stretch of road south of the Waingawa bridge to Carterton.

Owen rode along the stretch of highway with the mayors to show them areas of concern to NZTA, and to get their views.

Both mayors were impressed NZTA was looking for ideas from those who knew the roads best.

“They don’t want to tell us, they want to listen to what we see as the issues and how to make Masterton to Carterton safer,” Patterson said.

Booth said it was great to see the agency taking local views onboard.

“It’s a great opportunity for everybody to have their say, and I applaud NZTA for the way they are going about this engagement.

“Local people have local knowledge about the day-to-day, and they pass it on.”

As well as roundabouts, ideas discussed on Tuesday included median and roadside barriers, and lower speed limits.

Patterson said she was in favour of barriers and reduced speed in some places.

“I’d prefer to see the shoulders widened and barriers at the side.”

Many accidents along the highway were what Patterson called “run-offs”, where a single car hit roadside obstacles such as poles and signs.

She said having them would remove the need to lower speeds along the highway.

“I think if we widen the shoulders and put barriers on either side, we can keep the speed at 100k.

She would like to see a speed reduction from Norman Ave to past Ngaumutawa Rd as it was a busy area.

Booth said he did not mind barriers so long as they were strategically-placed, with sensible speeds enforced along the highway.

“I’m certainly not a fan of holus-bolus barriers everywhere.

“We need to look at slowing speed limits down.”

Booth said he wanted to see a 70kmh limit from the north end of Carterton to Clareville.

“Then on the other end, somewhere from Norman Ave to about Norfolk Rd – 70kmh.”

The first NZTA drop-in session was Tuesday, at Solway Primary School.

The second session is at Carterton Events Centre from 10am to 2pm on Saturday.

Alternatively, you can give your feedback online at nzta.govt.nz/m2c/have-your-say