The controversial pedestrian crossing between the Chapel St roundabout and the Te Ore Ore Rd turnoff. PHOTO/FILE
Researchers employed to further investigate the planned change to the lanes on State Highway 2 from the Chapel St roundabout to Te Ore Ore Road in Masterton found there will only be minimal delays to traffic.
Their report contains a lot of commentary in favour of keeping the zebra crossing though only 16 pedestrians were interviewed for the research.
In March 2019 NZTA will resurface the highway and change the lane layout so there will be one lane leading to the zebra crossing and two lanes after it.
The plan was first announced in February 2018, and in March councillors asked for further investigation though the report says Masterton District Council “was overwhelmingly in favour of retaining the zebra crossing”.
The lane change is controversial, with people’s views including whether or not the crossing is needed now that a school in the area no longer exists, and that traffic will back up with the proposed lane changes.
Capital Journeys, a Petone-based joint venture owned by Fulton Hogan and Opus, did a further investigation and their report dated July 2018 has been obtained by the Times-Age.
The report says with the new layout queues from traffic turning right into Te Ore Ore Road will extend beyond the lane marked for them for only 14 minutes, or 23 per cent, of the morning peak hour.
Also, northbound vehicles will have an average delay of just 3.7 seconds because of the change.
The report says the worst traffic queue never extends into the Chapel Street roundabout.
It says the removal of the two-lane approach to the zebra crossing significantly reduces the chances of pedestrians being hit on the crossing or being hit if crossing in unsafe places.
The report says NZTA and Austroads standards and guidelines advise against two-lane approaches to zebra crossings as drivers’ visibility is impeded, increasing the risks of pedestrians being hurt.
The report acknowledges there are more sudden stops and rear-end collisions with a zebra crossing.
If the zebra crossing was removed there are nearby crossings to use but it was felt the risk of them crossing in unsafe places rises.
Pedestrians would spend more time walking 200m to 300m to the nearby crossings.
The report did acknowledge that by removing the crossing, delays on SH2 would reduce as vehicles would no longer need to stop.
But children, the elderly and mobility-impaired would not be able to access nearby activities as easily.
The report said in March 2018 MDC contacted Mawley Holiday Park, the Wairarapa District Health Board, Douglas Park School and Lakeview School.
One suggested a roundabout at the intersection of Te Ore Ore Road and SH2 and did not support the one-lane approach to the removal of the crossing.
Two of them supported visibility improvements to the zebra crossing, which is achieved with the option that is going ahead.
Three of them did not support the removal of the crossing because of the inconvenience of the longer walk.
A pedestrian count was done on June 19 and 21 from 7.30am to 9am, noon to 2pm, and 3pm to 6pm and 17 pedestrians were counted using the zebra crossing to cross SH2.
There have been eight crashes on the crossing involving pedestrians from 2006 to 2018. In two, pedestrians were struck, one resulting in a serious injury and one a minor injury.
Three crashes occurred on the northbound approach when a vehicle at the crossing waiting in one lane obscured the view between the driver of the vehicles in the other lane and the pedestrian on the crossing.
There have also been six rear-end crashes, two of which resulted in minor injuries.
The report estimates the social cost of crashes at the crossing was $1 million and the cost of the rear-end crashes was $209,200.
Capital Journeys is a joint venture between Opus and Fulton Hogan and it delivers road maintenance, renewals and asset management for the Wellington state highway network under NZTA’s Network Outcomes Contract model.