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Driven round the bend

A notorious blackspot, the intersection of East Taratahi Rd, SH2 and Wiltons Rd, may get a roundabout. PHOTO/FILE

Road improvements ‘on NZTA’s radar’
New suggestion of three roundabouts between Carterton and Masterton

In the past two decades, one person has died and 13 have been badly injured at the East Taratahi Rd intersection with State Highway 2.

Now, a roundabout at the crash hotspot is on the cards, adding to the two already proposed on the stretch of SH2 from Carterton and Masterton.

An increased rise in pedestrian crossing crashes, a fragile Opaki Bridge, and new roundabouts were among the many topics Wairarapa Automobile Association brought to the table in a road safety tour with the New Zealand Transport Agency this week.

The two parties – including AA Wairarapa elected councillors, chairman Craig Bowyer, and NZTA Wellington regional transport site manager Mark Owen, took a tour from Opaki Bridge, north of Masterton, through to Carterton to identify areas of great concern to AA.

One of the areas identified as a priority was the safety around pedestrian crossings, and the big need for roundabouts at Ngaumutawa Rd in Masterton, and Norfolk Rd and East Taratahi Rd in Carterton.

Norfolk Rd has a woeful history of being a crash hotspot and there have been annual calls for improvements to be made to make travel easier and safer there.

NZTA has previously announced it would be placing a roundabout there, which Owen said was now in its final design stages, along with roundabouts for fellow hotspot Ngaumutawa Rd, and possibly for East Taratahi Rd.

“We are certainly focused on looking at the design for a roundabout at Ngaumutawa Rd, and Norfolk Rd,” he said.

“They are just doing the final designs of those. [NZTA] are also potentially looking at putting a roundabout at Wiltons Rd-East Taratahi Rd because it’s a dog-leg intersection.”

A median barrier was also on the cards for Hughes Line, which was another nearby area identified as a crash hot spot.

“That intersection has a crash history so we’re looking at what solutions we can provide,” Owen said.

Since 2000, one person has died and four people have been badly hurt at the intersection.

Seeing these structures fall into place would come down to allocated funding.

Owen said they would know how much funding they would have for the next three years come July 1.

Owen, a Wairarapa resident, acknowledged changes needed to be made and that NZTA had plans to address these issues, which included placing speed bumps at crossings.

“We’ve had a few crashes on pedestrian crossings through Wairarapa, so we’re looking to upgrade the crossings to make them more visible,” Owen said.

“We’ve got about 21 [pedestrian crossings] on the highway [SH2] alone, so we’re starting a programme of addressing those and we’re going to make them a slightly raised platform to make them more visible and for people to slow down.

“There is certainly room for improvement to make them more visible and safer, particularly for people who are walking. That is something we do need to focus on.”

Bowyer said he was pleased with how the tour went and said the AA’s concerns were definitely heard.

“It went very good,” Bowyer said.

“We voiced our opinions about various things, and what we’re trying to advocate for, and [NZTA] certainly took it on board.

“We had a discussion about the roundabouts that were going in and to make sure those happen.”

Although Bowyer was happy with the tour, there were other areas such as the Opaki Bridge he said needed quick attention before another crash happened, after a woman recently crashed her car into the bridge after her car crossed the median line.

“Structurally, the sides of that bridge are not good,” he said.

“If another car hits that bridge where the previous car hit it, the car will probably go over the bridge and on to the railway line. We needed to bring that to [NZTA’s] attention because something does really need
to be done.”

Overall, Bowyer – who said AA Wairarapa would be writing to the government to make sure the funding would be available to make sure the proposed plans happen – said he was confident changes would start to happen for Wairarapa roads.

“I’m extremely confident that we will see change happening,” he said.

“At a reasonable pace of course, as we all know bureaucracy takes time, but I think we will certainly see some things change, particularly with three or four pedestrian crossings.

“I think we’ll see those changes quite soon.

“All of this has been off [NZTA’s] radar for a while, but it’s certainly on their radar now.”

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