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Collins comes to town

Wairarapa National MP Alastair Scott, left, with Judith Collins, and Wairarapa National’s 2020 candidate for the Wairarapa electorate Mike Butterick. PHOTO/GIANINA SCHWANECKE

Pledges speedy road safety work

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At the Z-Energy fuel truck stop on the corner of Norfolk Rd and State Highway 2, National Party leader Judith Collins announced on Thursday morning that she would fast-track the earmarked roundabout for the intersection.

She said the party would get roadside safety barriers on the highway faster than the present government and increase passing lanes on the 78km stretch of road from Masterton to Woodville.

Collins said Wairarapa’s SH2 was dangerous and she would legislate, if necessary, to fast-track consents to get work started.

NZTA announced on July 3 that a roundabout was being designed for the intersection, and a series of roadside and median barriers would be erected from Waingawa to Clareville.

The announcement came after years of crashes on Wairarapa’s busiest state highway, and countless petitions and calls in support of a major road safety intervention by NZTA. But the news of the roundabout was criticised for not coming with a timeline.

Carterton Mayor Greg Lang said he hoped a date was set in the “very near-future” for work to commence as did Wairarapa Road Safety Council manager Bruce Pauling.

Collins agreed with the need for the intersection and said National would get it done faster.

“High quality, efficient roads are the backbone of commerce in Wairarapa,” Collins said.

“By getting wheels moving, we are letting the economy grow faster.”

Collins revealed details of National’s Wairarapa transport package: it includes two projects that will be fast-tracked with funding from the $300 million set aside for ‘digger-ready’ projects in National’s $31 billion infrastructure package announced last week.

The proposed package includes upgrading the Ngaumutawa Rd intersection in Masterton, safety improvements on the Chester Rd intersection, new passing lanes from Masterton to Woodville on SH2, and investigating a replacement Waihenga Bridge on SH53 in Martinborough.

Collins said there had been 22 crashes at the Norfolk Rd intersection in the past 10 years and acknowledged safety concerns at the Ngaumutawa Rd intersection.

A National Party media release said there had been 16 deaths and 48 serious injuries from Woodville to Masterton on SH2 since 2007.

“Proper passing lanes will help save lives and fix congestion,” Collins said.

“By fixing these dangerous intersections, roundabouts and stretches of highway, National will make Wairarapa a safer place to travel and we will get the local economy firing.”

Labour list MP and Wairarapa candidate Kieran McAnulty said planning was already under way on the SH2 project and Thursday’s announcement was a “politicking exercise, which is a shame”.

“I am always pleased to see other parties supporting improvements to our region and recognising its potential. However, it’s concerning when announcements are made without any costings or a clear plan for how they are going to be funded.”

Judith Collins talking to business leaders at the Carterton Events Centre on Thursday. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

Collins also visited the Hansells factory and Tranzit Coachlines in Masterton before addressing more than 200 business leaders at the Carterton Events Centre.

Hansells chief executive Alan Stewart took her on a tour of the food manufacturing factory and said he was impressed with how engaged Collins was and was pleased to know she buys Kings soup mix which he makes.

At Tranzit, she had a quick look at the fleet and then went into a closed meeting with managers.

At the Carterton Events Centre, Wairarapa Federated Farmers representative Karen Williams spoke about her concern that environmental and emissions trading scheme legislation was encroaching on farm owners’ ability to develop their land.

Collins replied that National would be re-examining the Resource Management Act and restricting its reach.

Principal of Carterton School, Matt Jacket walked out with Collins towards the lunchroom and said he lobbied her about the need to keep the teacher-to-student ratio down to one teacher to no more than 20 students.

During Collins’ Wairarapa visit, she praised the region’s shopping, food, and wine and said that when she runs out of energy in about 30 years “after a time as the prime minister”, she would look to buy a retirement place in Wairarapa.

Not all sentiments were rosy, however.

She said job losses were likely coming to Wairarapa, as with the rest of the country, and retraining would be needed.

“What I say to Wairarapa families is to keep being resilient because the hardship experienced now will actually make you more resilient and stronger.

“Keep being kind to each other but also be kind to yourself. When you are kind to yourself, you are more able to be kind to others.”

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