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‘Last straw’ for intersection

East Taratahi resident Diane Laing wants action on the crash black spot. PHOTO/MARCUS ANSELM

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Taratahi residents want less talk and more action to improve safety at a crash blackspot along State Highway 2.

One person has died, and more than 50 have been injured in crashes at the intersection of SH2 with East Taratahi Rd and Wiltons Rd since 2000, data from the New Zealand Transport Agency shows.

The latest crash at the hotspot was on Friday where a young mother suffered minor injuries.

This crash was the last straw for Diane Laing who owns a farm on the corner of the highway and East Taratahi Rd.

“They’re innocent people involved, and they have no idea what’s going to happen to them,” she told the Times-Age on Tuesday.

“This young girl in the last crash had a baby – fortunately she didn’t have the baby with her.

“But just to see the devastation on her face.

“I thought – I have got to do something.”

Laing, 79, has lived in the area since 1980.

She said the design of the road was wrong and recommended a roundabout.

The short stretch of road, taking in the highway’s corner with East Taratahi Rd and Wiltons Rd, has been the subject of debate for many years.

Traffic calming measures were introduced in 2016, with an electronic system which lowered the speed limit to 70kmh on request depending on traffic entering SH2 from side roads.

This came after several crashes at the intersection, including one in July 2016, in which a van propelled through a roadside fence and 60m into a paddock.

NZTA opened a dialogue with locals in 2018 after further concerns were raised, but no plans have taken effect so far.

Bruce Pauling, manager of the Wairarapa Road Safety Council, said last week’s crash “illustrated yet again the necessity for NZTA to address safety concerns along this state highway corridor with a lot more pace”.

Pauling said he thought locals had been very patient to date.

But the overwhelming feeling was that drivers who used these routes daily “are still at risk of death or serious injury if someone makes a simple mistake”.

He said residents felt they had already engaged with NZTA over several years and had given their feedback time and again as to what improvements they would like to see.

“We need safety measures in place as soon as possible. Reduced speeds to reduce injuries when crashes occur, are needed yesterday [Tuesday].”

NZTA’s Emma Speight said a plan was in place for improvements to the Masterton-Carterton road based on the 2018 discussions.

She said NZTA and Carterton District Council had identified potential safety measures including roundabouts at busy sections on the highway.

Other safety features included flexible median safety barriers with turnaround facilities, restricting turning to left in, left out, a flush median, a painted section along the road’s centre, and another speed limit review.

“There are a number of important safety projects around the country, and we need to prioritise the timing of our projects so we can make the biggest difference in reducing deaths and serious injuries,” Speight said.

“At this time, we have not confirmed timing for improvements.

“We will, however, continue to work to gain funding to make this road safer and keep the community updated on the progress of funding and safety improvement design.”

On average, more than 13,000 vehicles travel the stretch of SH2 in the Taratahi area every day.

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