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SH2 roadworks drag on

After a year of construction, the main building phase of the SH2 Masterton to Carterton roadworks project is likely to finish by the end of August – but may continue into September, Waka Kotahi has told the Times-Age.

But with the final pavement layer not due until summer, the transport agency said temporary speed limits will remain in place in areas where work is underway.

Waka Kotahi regional manager Jetesh Bhula said months of bad weather have delayed the roadworks.

“Project works must be completed to a high standard and, for many tasks, this requires dry weather conditions,” Bhula said.

“However, contractors are making every effort to complete the project as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

After the main construction is finished in August or September, contractors will return in November or December to complete the final pavement work and line marking in drier conditions.

Before that final pavement layer is laid, contractors will monitor the road surface, and temporary speed limits will remain in place while work is underway.

Bhula said the safety improvements – roundabouts, road widening, centre median barriers, and lower speed limits – will benefit the community.

“The improvements are a response to what the community has asked for – more accessible and safer access onto the highway from local roads,” he said.

“The median barriers will be instrumental in reducing death and serious injuries from head-on crashes.

“When this project is completed, there will be a much improved and safer section of highway for the community to use.”

However, the roadworks have been controversial in the region, with many motorists complaining about the disruption they’ve caused.

Reisima Haulage owner Graeme Reisima said the works have already cost the trucking industry a lot of money from travel-time delays. “I think you only need to look at social media and the comments that people have made regarding those lengthy, lengthy delays for what often appears to be little or no progress,” he said.

“I’m not a road builder, but it’s certainly frustrating to see when you’re trying to conduct a business that revolves around transporting things up and down the main road.”

Reisima said a lot of work still needs to be done on the road surface between Clareville and Wiltons Rd.

“It’s already breaking on the outside, there’s been horrendous potholes throughout the build, and contractors have left the road in some pretty shocking states. I’m hoping like crazy that’s not going to be the surface they use.”

Wairarapa road safety advocate and former motorcycle racer Aaron Slight is happy about the JNL and Ngaumutawa Rd roundabouts but said the $24 million project represents poor value for money for road users overall.

Slight said the median barriers are unlikely to provide real safety improvements without including a steel barrier on the left-hand side of the road – a feature that won’t be installed in these safety improvements.

“The top 10 things that seriously injure and kill people are on the left-hand side of the road, like the concrete lamp posts along that section,” he said.

Slight is also critical of the pace of the work, which he said seemed to be plagued by inefficiencies, to the frustration of motorists.

He said on one occasion, he’d been stuck behind the cone truck for an hour as it drove at walking pace straightening cones on the inside of the lane before turning around and continuing in the other direction.

“To take health and safety to that level is just ridiculous – stopping the rest of the world while you’re straightening cones.

“They could have gone down the middle of the road and straightened both sides at the same time without disrupting traffic,” Slight said.

“There’s dumb s**t that gets done like that every day.”

Wairarapa Automobile Association [AA] chair Craig Bowyer said the works have been frustrating but will be good for Wairarapa overall.

“A year on, the disruptions have been frustrating for all involved, but Wairarapa AA have long campaigned for roundabouts, and we believe that it’s going to be very, very good,” Bowyer said.

“People are still concerned about the reduction in speed. But we will have a safer road. There’s no doubt in that.”

Both Slight and Bowyer are concerned about the truck turnaround area in Clareville, noting that trucks could create a collision risk if they leave their trailers hanging over the lane of oncoming traffic.

Bhula said Waka Kotahi appreciated the impact the project has had on travel times between Masterton and Carterton.

“However, this is a substantial project, and some impact from construction was inevitable.”


  1. We use to have a nice quiet rural road before sh2 roundabouts began. Our council and NZTA widened the south end of Hughes line and I thought the northern part was going to be done as well. I was so wrong our northern end is a mess idiots still use it as a race track and people still drive north when it’s only ment to be south driven. All I can say is thanks for not looking after the northern end of Hughes line rate payers.

  2. Why with the money spent why was the Wilton’s road roundabout not having a free turn left with a double lane? All the roundabouts on Hawkes Bay motorway have a double lane, straight ahead and left turn.

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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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