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Sunday, May 26, 2024
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On the road to nowhere

Last week I wrote about the rural rates burden on our sector that was caused by roading costs. I felt that others used the roads and should pay their fair share.

Having said that, the Masterton District Council does a really good job maintaining the roads. Their efforts after Cyclone Gabrielle were nothing short of amazing. My issue is with other areas of roading expense.

Driving from Riversdale to Masterton recently, you could see dozens of about two-metre-high white poles installed on the side of the road. It was a local conversation starter to guess what they were for.

That was answered by speed limits for upcoming corners that I thought was a massive waste of money. Money that I was being rated for.

I was told it was for ‘safety reasons’ which I would dispute. For example, has there been any research completed that shows speed recommendations on corners reduces crashes? How was the speed limit set, and by whom? What is a safe speed on a good day would be quite different in a fog or heavy rain.

One size doesn’t fit all.

Let’s look at the practicalities. If locals drive on the road they know what speed to corner and in different weather. The signs are irrelevant.

If visitors drive on the same road, they corner as they see fit to do so. I’ve seen no evidence of any crashes on corners.

If tourists drive their huge motorhomes, the signs are probably also irrelevant as they will have been designed for a car or ute.

If the signs were aimed at tourists, then farmers shouldn’t be paying for any of it.

I was told that the signs were erected after consultation with Land Transport NZ, who were contributing to their cost.

I found that interesting.

Land Transport NZ refused funding for the Hinekura Road because the investment did not represent value for money’. I’d dispute that. Hinekura is a productive farming area that contributes to the NZ economy. Road signs on corners aren’t.

Mind you, understanding Land Transport NZ decisions is a little like understanding the Theory of Relativity.

I seem to remember National Leader Christopher Luxon telling me during the election campaign that if National were elected the 80 kilometre per hour speed limit between Featherston and Greytown would be gone by lunchtime. It’s now meant to be the end of next year.

Cynically could it be about the 94 drivers fined for doing between 80kph and 100 kph on the same stretch of road or the $20,000 in revenue the government received for the offences.

It is obvious that Land Transport NZ are active in the Wairarapa purely by the number of road cones we’re seeing which charitably speaking is excessive.

So instead of being the Land of the Long White Cloud could we become Land of the Short Orange Road Cone.

Land Transport NZ are certainly giving it their best shot.

Alan Emerson is a semi-retired writer, farmer and businessman living in Wairarapa. He writes a weekly column for Farmers Weekly and has written and/or edited five books.

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