Controversial upgrades to State Highway 2 have officially begun, as construction on the road’s three new roundabouts begins.
Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency regional manager Mark Owen, Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty, Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson and Carterton Mayor Greg Lang stuck their spades into the mud to commemorate the beginning of the project yesterday morning.
The three roundabouts would be built along SH2 between Masterton and Carterton and were expected to be completed within two years.
Although two of the roundabouts had wide support, pushback on the East Taratahi Rd roundabout had been vocal.
However, Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty said although there had been debate around the southern roundabout, the three were important for regional growth and safety.
“The work to improve safety on this critical route through Wairarapa will protect our community by significantly reducing the risk of people killed and seriously injured on our roads.
“Wairarapa is a growing region and so the pressure and reliance on our roads has increased significantly. I, alongside the community, have raised concerns about the risks involved in this route for some time ago as maintenance of the roads had not kept up with the rate of growth.”
Owen said the build had its complications due to being an exceptionally busy piece of road.
“It is a challenging build. It’s about 18 months to two years – the challenge with this is building it with the volume of traffic that we’ve got.
“I think the roundabouts are going to be almost revolutionary here because of the challenges of getting out onto State Highway 2, and it will encourage a lot more use of the bypass for vehicles bypassing Masterton.”
Owen said the Solway roundabout would help ease traffic problems at a significant part of the highway.
“The roundabouts are critical at an intersection where we’ve got people making critical decisions about turning against the flow of traffic, which is always a high risk, so they make it safer.
“It’s a very busy stretch of road. We did a traffic measurement back in 2019, pre-covid, and we had 22,000 a day on this short stretch here. It’s the busiest section because there are a lot of people going to the industrial estate.
“But 22,000 — that’s a very busy section of highway.”
The changes come as NZTA and the government work towards Road to Zero, a strategy aiming to reduce deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand roads by 40 per cent by 2030.