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Local fans Sheeran the pain

Queues of traffic lined the Remutaka Hill Rd all the way to the 50kmh sign in northern Featherston yesterday, after a logging truck broke down on the Wairarapa side of the hill.

The traffic jam left Ed Sheeran fans anxious they would miss his Wellington concert and holidaymakers fearing planes and ferries would leave without them.

The hill re-opened at 4.30pm, having been blocked at 1pm, but traffic backlogs remained.

A hopeful Ed Sheeran fan, who did not want to be named, noted all it took was one breakdown for people’s plans to go out the window.

“One road, one train, and one truck. That’s all it takes.” she said.

Detouring was not an option for her, and she felt bad for the “thousands of Wairarapa residents who will be stressed out by the delay and possibly missing out on the concert”.

Police confirmed the only detour between Wairarapa and Wellington was through Palmerston North, which would take about
three hours and ten minutes.

A normal trip to Wellington across Remutaka Hill takes commuters about 90 minutes.

Metlink said it was unable to reinstate off-peak trains to get people to Wellington because contractors were on the tracks carrying out planned upgrade works. The off-peak trains were replaced by buses.

Sammy T told the Times-Age he saw the truck break down on the way over
the hill from Martinborough.

“When passing the truck, I saw the driver walking down the hill road directing traffic.”

Hours later, another hopeful Ed Sheeran fan who found herself stuck in the queue observed that the passenger in front of her had opened a couple of bottles of wine to pass the time.

Fans spent up to $189.90 for premium tickets to see Sheeran last night,
according to Tiketek’s listing.

The Gray family said they desperately wanted to see the singer-songwriter star: “Ed needs to hold up the concert to wait for us!”

The family said they were “melting in the heat”, which Metservice reported reached 29 degrees across Wairarapa yesterday.

An unnamed man said the wait was “beyond ridiculous” and asked, “why can’t they just give us a time?”

Traffic began moving by 4.40pm, and by 5pm it was flowing freely, an Ed Sheeran fan said, although “a campervan was broken down on the Kaitoke side of the hill travelling north”.

“As we were going down the hill we could see the [log] truck’s trailer had been removed and pulled to one side. It was sitting in a passing lane,” she said.

On Wednesday, hill traffic was partially blocked after a truck flipped in the northbound lane on the Upper Hutt side. Police responded to the crash at 4.30pm and confirmed there were no reports of injuries.

    Additional reporting by Flynn Nicholls

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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