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Reduced speeds needed yesterday

Residents have for many years requested a legislated reduction in speed around East Taratahi Rd. Pictured is a 2017 crash. PHOTO/FILE

ELI HILL
[email protected]

Wairarapa Road Safety Council’s manager has called for action on the dangerous section of State Highway 2 at Waingawa.

Another crash at East Taratahi last week, illustrated yet again the necessity for the New Zealand Transport Agency to urgently address safety concerns along the SH2 corridor, Wairarapa Road Safety Council manager Bruce Pauling said.

“I think people have been very patient to date and understand the immense amount of work and safety projects in the pipeline, both regionally and nationally.

“However, the overwhelming feeling, is that local drivers who use these routes daily, are still at risk of death or serious injury if someone makes a simple mistake.”

Pauling said people felt they had already engaged with NZTA over several years and had given their feedback time and time again, as to what improvements they would like to see, to keep commuters safe from horrific crashes.

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

“Safety infrastructure improvements such as roundabouts, median barriers, road widening, and provisions allowing for agricultural vehicles and vulnerable road users such as cyclists, need to be funded and approved as soon as possible, so these essential safety works can begin.”

Pauling said that only then would Wairarapa road users have confidence in the agency and know their daily commutes would be safer.

NZTA director of regional relationships Emma Speight said the agency was still working on a plan for the improvement that the agency thinks would make the section of SH2 safer.

“This has not been delayed.

“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 the agency was working on gaining funding to make this road safer, which takes into account potential safety improvements.

These include flexible median safety barriers with turnaround facilities on high-risk stretches like the main open road section. These can prevent head-on crashes as well as reducing the harm caused by crashes.

Roundabouts at busy intersections such as where Norfolk Rd and Ngaumutawa Rd joined SH2 could be introduced to make it safer to turn into or off the highway.

At less busy intersections the agency may look at restricting turning to ‘left in, left out’ only to prevent crashes.

A flush median, a painted section along the centre of the road, could be used to create a safe space for people to wait before turning off the state highway in areas like Clareville.

A review of speed limits along sections of this road was also included in potential safety improvements.

The stretch of road has been the topic of safety discussions for years.

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

At a Carterton District Council meeting in July last year NZTA regional transport systems manager Mark Owen said the slow progress up to that point was the result of a delayed safety investigation.

The council’s decision to act by closing Norman Avenue was a good outcome for those who used the area and would increase pressure on NZTA to act, he said.

At the time, Owen said NZTA would like to have something in place by Christmas 2019.

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