Following last week’s fatal crash on Remutaka Hill Rd, the Times-Age asked Waka Kotahi why it prioritised Masterton-Featherston safety improvements ahead of improving safety on the Hill Rd, a significantly more lethal stretch of SH2.
From 2018-2022 there were five fatal crashes on Remutaka Hill Rd and 14 resulting in serious injuries.
In the same period, there were two fatal open-highway crashes between Masterton and Featherston and 10 resulting in serious injuries.
Last year Waka Kotahi proposed lowering the speed limit on Remutaka Hill from 100kmh to 60kmh and installing physical safety improvements like safety barriers, signage, and markings, but these changes have yet to begin.
Meanwhile, Waka Kotahi has reduced the open highway speed between Masterton and Featherston from 100kmh to 80kmh and is well underway with installing physical safety improvements, including three new roundabouts and a wire centre barrier.
Given Waka Kotahi’s insistence on the importance of reducing the number of serious and fatal crashes, the Times-Age asked the transport agency about its rationale for improving the less dangerous stretch before the more dangerous stretch.
The following questions were responded to by Emma Speight, Waka Kotahi director of regional relationships.
Question: Why did Waka The following questions were responded to by Emma Speight, Waka Kotahi director of regional relationships.
Question: Why did Waka Kotahi undertake safety improvements and speed review on SH2 Masterton to Featherston before SH2 Ngauranga to Featherston [which includes the Hill Rd], and what is its rationale for doing one set of safety upgrades before another?
Answer: “The timing of these projects has been determined by the nature of the projects involved, planning and project integration, and public consultation.
“Basically, engagement and planning for the Masterton to Carterton initiatives came into our workstream ahead of those for Featherston to Ngauranga.
“Project planning is also a factor. We try to avoid having multiple major projects happening on the network simultaneously, as this can increase disruption for drivers and affected residents.”
Although this reply explained which project happened first the Times-Age felt did not answer why one stretch was prioritised before another, so these follow-up questions were posed:
Questions: Why did one set of works come into the Waka Kotahi workstream before another?
Is there a prioritisation system for ordering projects?
What factors determine the order in which a project comes into Waka Kotahi’s workstream?
Answer: “Masterton to Featherston and Ngauranga to Featherston are important corridors where we are working to reduce the risk of serious and fatal crashes.
“The changes being put in place for each area are tailored to the specific safety risks and crash histories associated with both areas.
“However, the overall aims are the same.
“We are working hard to make changes that reduce the frequency of serious and fatal crashes.
“A combination of safer speed limits and safety improvements mean people face a lower risk of death and injury when a crash occurs.
“Consultation on the Masterton to Featherston speed review began before speed review work for Ngauranga to Featherston got underway.
“The Masterton to Featherston speed review work was integrated with the Masterton to Carterton safety improvement project and the new pedestrian crossing proposals.
“Because the planning and coordination for this work was further along, it proceeded before the Ngauranga to Featherston proposals.
“Decisions on the Ngauranga to Featherston speed review [including SH2, Remutaka Hill] are still to be finalised. Work on safety improvements on Remutaka Hill is due to begin this year.”