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NZTA taking slooow, steady approach to Hill

The recent introduction of the slow vehicle bays on State Highway 2 Remutaka Hill will continue to be monitored “to ensure they are delivering a safer road for drivers”, NZTA Waka Kotahi has confirmed to the Times-Age, while noting that “further installation work is yet to be completed”.

This includes “looking at the merge and diverge areas of the slow vehicle bays, together with the lengths of the slow vehicle bays,” Mark Owen, regional manager for the lower North Island and top of the South Island said.

Owen described the monitoring as “an ongoing process [that] is helping inform the next steps of the safety improvement works”.

NZTA started the installation of the slow vehicle bays, along with other safety measures, several weeks ago during a series of ongoing nighttime road closures.

“The decision to change the passing lanes to slow vehicle bays is about encouraging people to drive safely and courteously when travelling on State Highway 2 Remutaka Hill,” Owen said.

“The old passing lanes did not meet the current criteria for the length of passing lanes. Many of the passing lanes being replaced were too short and had merges located on curves, which can encourage high speeds and unsafe driving. Slow vehicle bays are seen as being more appropriate for the challenging road environment found on the Remutaka Hill.

“Unlike passing lanes, where vehicles must remain in the left-hand lane unless overtaking, slow vehicle bays rely on slower vehicles moving into the left lane, to not impede the main traffic flow.

“It is the responsibility of all drivers to drive safely and courteously when using either a slow vehicle bay or passing lane, taking into account the relevant factors such as the size of their vehicle, their speed, and the volume of traffic.”

The recent performance of the road – particularly the slow vehicle bays – has attracted criticism from local commuters, as well as from Wairarapa Road Safety Council [WRSC] manager Bruce Pauling, who said he understands drivers’ complaints.

“I share commuters’ concerns of their lived experiences when a vehicle has pulled over to the left on the slow vehicle lanes, only to then have to pull out again a very short distance along, causing other vehicles to take evasive action and on occasions cross the centre line,” Pauling said.

The slow vehicles bay will be subject to “other work” this month during the 10 nights of planned closures on May 19 to 24 and May 26 to 31, between the hours of 9pm and 4am.

“It includes additional signage within each slow vehicle bay, to provide advance notification of the merge, and further changes to road markings to help improve safe and courteous driving behaviour at the slow vehicle bays,” Owen said.

“More time will be needed to fully evaluate these measures and how they affect driver behaviour and road safety, particularly as the work on the slow vehicle bays is still to be completed.”

Owen noted that “a wide range of people travel over the hill, including commuters, businesspeople, transport operators, locals, and visitors, and they may all vary in factors such as their familiarity and confidence in driving over the hill”.

“We take into account all road users when considering and making changes on our state highways, and the public is always encouraged to let us know about issues affecting state highways.

“They can contact NZTA/Waka Kotahi via our contact centre – 0800 44 44 49.”

1 COMMENT

  1. All this SAFETY WORK? The road is NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE ? Start sending money 💰 on a NEW ROAD. it’s like the MANAWATU GORGE trying to keep it open? Do we need to keep wasting money???. If the NZTA HAS NOT WORK OUT THE ROAD IS NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE THEN THE GOVERNMENT MUST TAKE CHARGE WITH LEGISLATION.

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