As of Monday drivers will not be enter or exit Norman Avenue from or to State Highway 2. PHOTO/FILE
The intersection of Norman Avenue and State Highway 2 [SH2], between Masterton and Carterton, closed on Monday due to on-going safety concerns.
It comes after more than 18 months of discussion between Carterton District Council [CDC] and the New Zealand Transport Agency [NZTA] about the highway, and enacts a decision made by council last month.
The CDC elected members have been concerned for some time about the safety of this stretch of SH2.
“We took the decision to temporarily close the intersection as we believed urgent action was needed to avoid a major incident,” Deputy Mayor Russell Keys said.
In August 2018 Council approved a left in/left out option to be discussed with the New Zealand Transport Agency [NZTA] and implemented at the Norman Avenue-SH2 intersection.
However, this proved not to be feasible as a short-term measure because physical barriers along the centre line of the highway would have been required.
The Council has been working with NZTA to create permanent safety improvement options, but as “the timeline for the decision as to what safety improvements to make is uncertain” the council has opted for a temporary road closure as an interim measure.
“The Council will continue to advocate to the Agency on behalf of all Masterton to Carterton road users to prioritise the safety work along this stretch of Highway,” it said.
The temporary closure of the Norman Avenue intersection will see a physical barrier placed across the eastern end of Norman Avenue to and from SH2 which allows for pedestrian/cycle traffic access but prevents motor vehicle access.
This means that while vehicles will still be able to access Norman Avenue, they will no longer be able to enter or exit Norman Avenue directly from SH2 and will need to gain access via Waingawa Road.
The barrier will be removed once NZTA’s review has been completed.
At last month’s council meeting NZTA regional transport systems manager Mark Owen said the slow progress was the result of a delayed safety investigation which he expected to be completed by later this month, and the development of NZTA’s new speed management guide.
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.
“Realistically, we’d like to get something in place before Christmas,” Owen said.
At the time, concerns were also expressed about the increased pressure the closure would put on the Norfolk Rd-SH2 intersection.