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Line showing the strain

Hughes Line – a narrow country road with no painted centreline between Masterton and Clareville – has seen a massive influx of traffic from cars avoiding the roadworks on State Highway 2.

Waka Kotahi NZTA’s SH2 safety improvements have caused many motorists to choose to take Hughes Line instead – transforming what used to be a quiet rural road into a busy thoroughfare filled with commuters and heavy vehicle traffic putting pressure on the road surface, and speeding drivers increasing the risk for other road users.

One motorist said they had seen large logging trucks unable to fit on the road driving with their right-hand wheels on the road and their left-hand wheels on the unsealed shoulders, which were lower than the sealed road surface.

Wairarapa Road Safety Council manager Bruce Pauling said he had seen poor driving on Hughes Line and recommended that all motorists follow the temporary speed limit.

“I was driving down Hughes Line a couple of days ago, and somebody overtook me going over 100kmh,” he said.

“That driver had to slam on the brakes and slot back between me and the vehicle in front because of an oncoming car.”

A spokesperson for Carterton District Council [CDC], which manages Hughes Line, said increased traffic volumes would mean increased maintenance for the rural road.

Contractors closed one lane last week to conduct surface repairs.

Waka Kotahi regional manager for infrastructure delivery Jetesh Bhula said drivers should stay on SH2 instead of taking Hughes Line.

He said Waka Kotahi is monitoring Hughes Line’s road surface.

“We acknowledge the delays are frustrating and ask for patience while work is underway. We would also ask drivers to stay on the state highway instead of using local roads,” he said.

While the speed limit on the road is usually 100kmh, CDC chose to put a temporary speed limit of 70kmh in place – as recommended by Waka Kotahi – to accommodate the risk caused by extra traffic.

A council spokesperson said it “strongly encouraged” motorists to stick to SH2, despite the delays caused by the roadworks.

“Hughes Line was not intended for the volume of use it is currently getting, and we cannot keep people safe if they are not adhering to the temporary speed limit put there to protect them,” they said.

Road policing manager Senior Sergeant Kate Saxton said police had issued 13 infringements for speeding on Hughes Line since February 20 but had not attended any crashes.

“Police would remind motorists to drive within the speed limits posted, but also to the conditions at hand.

“The limits are there for your safety, and for that of the road workers and other road users.

“As such, we will not hesitate to issue infringements as appropriate to those found driving in an unsafe manner,” Saton said.

The roadworks on SH2 between Carterton and Masterton were expected to be substantially completed by August.


  1. Can you blame drivers, particularly workers who might need to drive SH2 multiple times per day? Why traffic management and speed restrictions have to be in place over such a vast section (essentially the entire distance from Carterton to Masterton) while workers ( mostly doing nothing meaningful for large parts of the day) are only carrying out work in a small section at any one time.

  2. I sent email to carterton district council 30th September explaining road conditions and safety. I’ve sent 11 so far and photos, my main concern 😟 why they only widened half of Hughes line. The road managers need firing totaly incompetent, they never thought about this safety issue 🤔 🙄.

  3. The stupid Council have half done roadworks on Hughes Line by digging up a section of road shoulder- then walked away from it ! Both main rd and Hughes line are held up by roadworks. Ridiculous.

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Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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