NZTA looking to make Masterton-Carterton SH2 stretch safer
A stretch of Wairarapa highway where six people have died in the past 18 years is set to finally get the safety improvements the region has been asking for.
State Highway 2 between Carterton and Masterton has been identified as a high-risk route under the New Zealand Transport Agency’s Safe Roads campaign, and it wants local input on how to make the stretch of road safer.
Wairarapa Road Safety Council manager Bruce Pauling is glad the notorious stretch of highway is finally being looked at.
“It’s been prompted by the Government’s plans on spending $600m nationally for regional rural roads safety improvements,” he said.
“It’s kickstarted an action plan with the Government’s plan on road safety being a priority, which we welcome.”
Most of the injuries from crashes on SH2 were caused by head-on crashes and drivers running off the road, but there had also been accidents at intersections.
The three key intersections highlighted by NZTA are Wiltons Rd and East Taratahi Rd, Norfolk Rd and Cornwall Rd, and Ngaumutawa Rd and SH2.
NZTA’s consultation process will see key stakeholders driven over the route with NZTA staff, with drop-in sessions for the public at Solway School on August 8, and Carterton Events Centre on August 11.
Carterton Mayor John Booth has long been an advocate for implementing a roundabout at the Norfolk Rd intersection and is keen to have his say.
“The big one for us is the potential roundabout and what sort of safety mechanisms they will put in place along that stretch of highway.”
He said while safety was paramount, there was more than just the protection of motorists to be considered when making alterations to the highway.
He said the region was rapidly growing and NZTA needed to allow freer access to sections which border SH2.
“We need to make allowance for future growth.
“If you want to set up a business off SH2, it’s almost impossible at the moment.
“I would like a highway designed so we have no deaths and also allow for economic growth.”
While it was unclear how soon motorists could expect to see improvements being made, Booth said the drop-in sessions were a step in the right direction.
“It’s a really good idea from NZTA – they want input from the locals, so we can tell them what we see and what we hear.”
NZTA regional transport systems manager Mark Owen agreed local input was key.
“The region is booming, and this is a key corridor.
“We want to hear the frustrations from the people who live and work in the area,” he said.
The road had become significantly busier in the past year, Owen said, with a traffic count south of the Waingawa River bridge seeing 20,000 vehicles passing through in a 24-hour period in November.
“One of our mantras is that no one should die because of a mistake on the transport network,” he said.
“We want people to come to us with ideas [for the section of road], and also to understand why we make the decisions we do when it comes to safety.”
Owen said access was also a key consideration.
The section of road was extremely busy at its northern end near the Waingawa industrial area, but also required access options around Clareville.
Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said there had been “meeting after meeting” in the past three years on SH2.
Now was the opportunity for the public to have their say.
“The frustration I hear constantly is about [the need for] a roundabout at the Ngaumutawa-SH2 intersection.
“The community is being given the chance to share their views on what should be done – I hope they take that opportunity.”
Pauling said the people of Wairarapa need to engage with NZTA to ensure the region got the funds it needed.
“We want to hear the public’s ideas and their concerns around the problems.
“We’ve got a few ideas but there is no way they will be implemented without public consultation.
“I can’t say how much is earmarked for Masterton to Carterton – it all depends on the agreed plan after consultation and engagement.
“My hope is there will be action soon after the proposed plan comes back, and I really hope physical work starts soon after the proposal is on the table.”