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Six crashes in six days

Variable message sign warning roadworks ahead. PHOTO/HELEN HOLT

SH2 danger zone

After six crashes near Clareville, a resident is concerned the stretch of State Highway 2 [SH2] is a death waiting to happen.

Police were notified of six crashes near roadworks between Clareville and Waingawa last week, including a five-vehicle nose-to-tail on Friday afternoon.

A resident [who preferred not to be named] said he had complained to Waka Kotahi NZTA multiple times after witnessing numerous near misses in the area.

“There’s already been accidents. This is a death waiting to happen. When there’s a crash, there’s a cost to businesses, to people involved who have their car written off.

“It takes time for emergency services to get there when they could be better used somewhere else.”

He said NZTA did not want to take responsibility because the problem area was beyond the work zone, and Worksafe had said it was outside its jurisdiction.

The man said the recently installed variable messaging signs [VMS] were a start, but also wanted “hidden queue” signs and a traffic signage truck warning cars to slow down.

The construction project to install roundabouts on SH2 between Masterton and Carterton began in May and is due for completion in August next year.

“These roading projects are meant to make it safer, meanwhile the roadworks could cause a serious accident.”

Two VMS were placed north and south side of the roadworks on Monday after the man again raised concerns with NZTA on Friday.

Mandy Bedingfield’s daughter wrote off a ute when she went to a sudden stop south of the roadworks on Friday morning and rear-ended the car in front with a baby inside.

“The crash happened well before the signage to slow down,” she said.

“At that point it was still 100kmh, and then it suddenly stopped, there were barriers either side and she had nowhere to go but into the car in front.

“The roadwork signage wasn’t until further after the crash.”

She hoped the VMS would help but wondered why it was only installed this week.

On the same day as the nose-to-tail crash, there was a five-vehicle nose-to-tail crash at 4.50pm. One person had minor injuries and the road was blocked until the cars could be towed.

Wellington District acting road policing manager Senior Sergeant Matt Fitzgerald said safety measures were reassessed to prevent further crashes.

“It is concerning there’s been a significant number of crashes in that area. Luckily, they haven’t been serious accidents.

“We have talked with Waka Kotahi about how this area can be made safer.”

Wairarapa road safety manager Bruce Pauling said he had discussions with Waka Kotahi on Monday after hearing of multiple crashes.

“The hidden queue during morning peak traffic was the problem for a lot of crashes.”

He said safety assessments was exploratory work.

“When works begin, some safety issues become apparent only after they’ve started. That’s when we look at putting extra measures in.”

Waka Kotahi closed the passing lanes in the area in response to the string of crashes.

The worksite was paused earlier this week while the traffic safety plan was updated.

Waka Kotahi planned to implement a larger pilot vehicle with lights to warn drivers.

Infrastructure delivery regional manager Jetesh Bhula said they were aware of traffic incidents in the area.

“A comprehensive traffic management plan was developed for this project.

“There is a 50kmh speed limit in place at the site.

“Once the project is completed, the southbound passing lane will be permanently closed, as there is not enough space there to pass safely between intersections.

“The northbound passing lane will reopen when work in the area has finished. Any traffic collision that occurs at a roadworks site must be reported to Waka Kotahi and the traffic management coordinator.

“This involves identifying the possible cause of the incident, making sure the temporary traffic management, as well as any remedial measures needed to reduce the risk of further incidents occurring.”

Bhula said no formal crash investigations were under way, because none of the incidents resulted in a death or serious injury.

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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