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No longer going round in circles

Diane Laing and Neil Carr are jubilant that the roundabout they’ve been lobbying for will now go ahead. PHOTO/JOHN LAZO-RON

John Lazo-Ron
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An East Taratahi woman battling for a roundabout to be installed at the East Taratahi Rd/SH2 intersection for more than a decade says she can finally rest after the New Zealand Transport Agency [NZTA] gave it the go-ahead last week.

The NZTA has given a $24.8 million package of safety improvements for State Highway 2 [SH2] in Wairarapa the green light.

The announcement made by Transport Minister Michael Wood last week will see a package of flexible safety barriers, pedestrian crossings, walking and cycling paths, road widening, new signage, and new roundabouts at Ngaumutawa Rd, Norfolk Rd and East Taratahi/ Wiltons Rd, installed.

Diane Laing has frantically been on NZTA’s case for a roundabout to be mounted at the crash hotspot for more than 10 years.

The East Taratahi resident said last week’s announcement was an enormous victory for many who never gave up hope that the NZTA would finally listen to their calls.

“I was absolutely ecstatic,” she said.

“I had my hands in the air because it’s a victory after all this time fighting for it. I’m thrilled to bits. It’ll be just a joy knowing it’s going to be done instead of being such a worry for me over the years.”

The 80-year-old said knowing the roundabout was to come will now allow her to have some much-needed rest and peace of mind.

“This has been a nightmare to me,” she said.

“There’s nothing worse than looking out and seeing an accident with all the flashing lights and powerlines down and everything.

“So I’m glad that this has been done now because it’s been hard. I’m 80 and I can’t keep battling it any longer. The biggest thrill for me would be to see it in before I die. I don’t want to ever see another accident here again.”

Hughes Line resident and fellow East Taratahi roundabout lobby member Neil Carr said the news was a decade in the making.

“We’re really happy that [NZTA] acknowledged that this corner is dangerous and warrants a roundabout,” he said.

“I was so pleased when I read the news I actually sent Kieran McAnulty a note saying that I was very pleased to see it was coming through, and I’m no fan of his government, so I think it’s bloody great.

“With the traffic growth that’s there, I think it will reduce the likelihood of future serious injury and possibly deaths, and will also benefit traffic to Martinborough.”

Carr said people, particularly nearby residents, would be thrilled by the announcement and that future construction disruptions would be tolerated.

“I think the community will just feel good to see something happening that is known to have been a problem for so long. Particularly with all this covid uncertainty, it’s good to see something positive happening,” he said.

“I know this means there will be traffic disruptions, but I think people will be happy to put up with them to get these safety improvements.”

Carr heaped a tonne of praise on Laing for all the hard work she carried out to see this eventually come together.

“She’s been amazing,” he said.

“She’s the one that has canvassed hard for this for a long time and she’s seen the consequences of the heavy demands on that road and those nasty intersections. I know she’ll be over the moon with the news.”

Laing said hoped the roundabout would get precedence over all the other infrastructure planned because she believes it’s only a matter of time before someone else gets hurt at the intersection.

“We lose so many vehicles here,” she said.

“Somebody will be killed at the end of it if we’re not careful. It will make sense if this one is done first.”

With construction on the safety improvements planned for early next year, Laing said it would be a timely birthday present for her to see it all get under way.

“I’ll be a new lady when it’s done. I won’t have to worry anymore. But it won’t turn my white hair black, she laughed.

Wood said the SH2 announcement was part of the Government’s goal to make all roads in New Zealand safe.

He said there would naturally be disruptions to traffic during the construction period and asked for patience during these times.

“[NZTA] will try to minimise local impact as much as possible,” he said.

“At times that might be about diversions, at times that might be about the hour of the day, but there will be some disruptions and we ask local people to be as patient as possible and plan out their journeys during this time as the outcome will be a much safer road for everyone.”

NZTA is working with landowners and communities to seek feedback on the designs of the $24.8 million package of improvements before going to tender later this year.

Dependent on property acquisition and consents, construction will begin early next year on SH2 between Masterton and Carterton. Construction is expected to take two years.

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