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Unfinished roadworks putting safety on the line

An incomplete road-widening job has left multiple Hughes Line residents feeling let down by the Carterton District Council [CDC].

The rural road has seen a dramatic increase in traffic volume since February, with trucks and commuters using it to avoid the roadworks on SH2 between Clareville and Masterton.

The council widened one-half of the Hughes Line – from Clareville to East Taratahi Rd – in mid-2022, leaving the other half – from East Taratahi Rd to Cornwall Rd – as a narrow farm road with no centre line and crumbling unsealed shoulders on either side.

Hughes Line resident Mike Playford said he had emailed CDC 11 times since September 2022, asking them to finish the job.

He said he had stopped walking his dog on the stretch of road in the past three months because it had become too unsafe with heavy traffic.

“Why would the council only widen one half of the road when they knew they [Waka Kotahi NZTA] were going to close East Taratahi Rd?

“Where did they think all the traffic was going to go? Gladstone? I don’t think so,” Playford said.

“There are school buses and logging trucks trying to pass each other; it’s so dangerous.”

Fellow Hughes Line resident Neil Carr said the unfinished job and roadworks on SH2 were both contributing to an unsafe driving environment. The seal extension has been left incomplete, with two culvert extensions awaiting installation, Carr said – leaving two dangerous bottlenecks that are merely marked with inadequate warning signs.

“Hughes Line is a great community that has been let down by CDC and NZTA.”

Heavy trucks taking the diversion had wrecked the seal edges, said Carr, who contends police have not done enough to prevent speedsters, only issuing 13 speeding tickets in the past two months.

“13 tickets – really! There’d be 13 speeding cars and trucks per hour all day, every day,” he said.

A council spokesperson said it widened one-half of Hughes Line as a low-cost, low-risk improvement.

The culvert extensions were initially scheduled for summer 2022/23 when stream flows are usually lower, but a wet summer and multiple cyclones delayed the works, the spokesperson said.

“Hughes Line remains on our list of roading priorities with further work planned. However, we need to assess this against other priorities on the network while bearing in mind that the current traffic behaviour on this road is temporary due to the SH2 works.

“We encourage road users to stick to the State Highway and adhere to posted speed limits.”

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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