An impression of what the new layout will look like. PHOTO/SUPPLIED/NZTA

PAM GRAHAM
pam.graham@age.co.nz

A bid by Masterton district councillors to change a rejig of lanes on State Highway 2 from the northern roundabout in Masterton to Te Ore Ore Road has failed.

The New Zealand Transport Agency investigated its plan further and is sticking to what was proposed last February.

It is resurfacing the northbound lanes and changing the road layout to one lane for vehicles before the pedestrian crossing, splitting to two lanes past the crossing.

The work was to happen last week but rain stopped it, and it is now scheduled for March next year.

In March last year, Masterton district councillors requested further investigation, arguing the pedestrian crossing should go, and traffic would back up under the proposed changes.

NZTA regional systems manager Mark Owen said a report was provided to the council and the original plan is going ahead.

Owen said there have been eight reported crashes related to the zebra crossing since 2006. Of these, two involved pedestrians being struck, resulting in one serious injury and one minor injury.

These crashes occurred on the northbound approach to the crossing, when a vehicle at the crossing waiting in one lane obscures visibility between the driver of vehicles in the other lane and the pedestrian on the crossing.

There have also been six reported near-crashes, from vehicles stopping for pedestrians on the crossings. Of these, two resulted in minor injuries.

Cr Deborah Davidson said councillors had wanted a survey of the use of the crossing to determine whether it needed to be there.

It was used by those going to Lansdowne School but that had been closed.

Davidson said she absolutely understood the dangers of the current lane marking but the query had been whether the crossing was needed.

The issue arose by chance at a Masterton District Council meeting last Wednesday when councillors were discussing the lack of new plants in the traffic islands.

Chief executive Kath Ross said the resurfacing was one of the health and safety issues she had to consider in deciding not to replant the flower beds.

Councillors were surprised to hear the resurfacing was going ahead.

Wairarapa Road Safety Council manager Bruce Pauling is a supporter of the change.

The work will also result in increased space for cyclists with the installation of a marked shoulder.

Drivers will have a better view of the crossing with only one lane leading up to it.

Pauling said it was all set to be marked out when the councillors did the turnaround last year.

“I saw it as a safety improvement for the pedestrians and the plan also catered for cyclists.”

He said it would be an extremely rare occasion when traffic backed up.

NZTA controls highways.