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Roadworks impact first responders

Ongoing speed restrictions and long periods of congestion on State Highway 2 [SH2] between Masterton and Carterton are adversely impacting the response times of Wairarapa’s emergency services.

A 30kmh speed limit is currently enforced for over 7km along SH2 between Clareville and Masterton.

Generally, emergency vehicles are able to travel 30kmh over the speed limit if they are responding to an incident.

But under these temporary roadwork restrictions, all road users – including emergency services – must comply regardless of what they are responding or travelling to.

Wellington Free Ambulance [WFA] Wairarapa shift manager Andrew Gladding said the roadworks are making it harder for ambulance crews to reach the people who need them quickly.

“30km is painfully slow when someone’s not breathing,” he said.

WFA head of emergency ambulance services Kate Worthington said that although there have been no documented adverse impacts on patients due to delays, response times to incidents have been impacted.

“This is frustrating for those waiting on our crews to arrive and also for our team.”

Mitigation efforts to bypass the congestion involve ambulance crew taking back roads, but even this is being thwarted by other drivers with the same idea, Worthington said.

“Like many locals, our crews are using their own knowledge of back roads to avoid the roadworks delays.

“However, as many others are also doing this, we are seeing congestion on these alternative routes.”

Worthington asked that the public be understanding and respectful if there is a delay in an ambulance crew reaching their destination.

“We understand that waiting is frustrating, but often delays are beyond our control,” she said.

“We would take this opportunity to remind our community of the importance of safely and quickly pulling over when they see any emergency service vehicle travelling under lights or sirens.”

Fire and Emergency New Zealand services must also operate under the restricted speed limits but don’t use the affected stretch of road as frequently as ambulances, due to having more stations around the region.

Meanwhile, police are taking a long-term view of the roadworks Wairarapa Area Commander Inspector Scott Miller said.

While there may be frustration among the general public, the roundabouts will ultimately be positive, he said, citing Wiltons Rd as an example of a high crash area.

The main issue is the increased volume of traffic on Hughes Line, which had created more work for police, Miller said.

“People speeding through there are not necessarily stopping or giving way, and it’s quite dangerous for locals.

“That is one of our biggest risks and requires a bit of extra policing for the roading team.”

Waka Kotahi NZTA said its contractors will always endeavour to prioritise access for emergency services through all work sites to ensure they can respond quickly to urgent situations.

“We understand the vital importance of ambulance services for the community,” the transport agency said.


  1. If CDC widened the full of Hughes line that would have enabled motorists to pull over but CDC only widened half of Hughes line. Totally unsafe for emergency to pass.

  2. This is why they should never have done all the roundabouts at the same time. Why not one at a time. When the concrete barriers were along in places there was no room to pass for ambulances.

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Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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