A lack of action to reduce crashes on State Highway 2 is beginning to frustrate mayors. PHOTO/FILE

But frustrations grow over lack of action on State Highway 2

EMMA BROWN
emma.brown@age.co.nz

Wairarapa councils and mayors are weighing in on the government’s proposed new road safety strategy Road to Zero – while becoming increasingly frustrated about the lack of action on making State Highway 2 safer.

The strategy approach – ‘No death or serious injury while travelling on our roads is acceptable’ – aims to reduce road deaths by 40 per cent by 2030.

The strategy will be out for consultation until August.

Wairarapa road safety manager Bruce Pauling said, “it is great to have the aspirations, but we need tangible infrastructure on the ground.

“An aim and the philosophy with the agencies creating the infrastructure nationally, it is the way to go.”

South Wairarapa District Council chief executive Harry Wilson said most countries that had achieved a significant reduction in road trauma had done so by using targets such as Vision Zero.

“New Zealand’s road trauma is not acceptable, and we owe it to our family members, friends, and work colleagues to adopt the best possible policies and actions to make our roads safer and reduce unnecessary harm.”

South Wairarapa Deputy Mayor Brian Jephson said any moves to help reduce the road toll had to be a good thing.

“I definitely think that some of our roads in South Wairarapa could have lower speed limits.

“We have so many windy, narrow roads and lots of logging and cattle trucks, and tourists.”

Carterton Mayor John Booth said it was “a worthy aspirational goal to have a zero target for road deaths and we are always happy to work with the NZTA in trying to achieve this”.

The main trouble spots in Carterton are the intersection points between SH2 and the district’s roads, he said.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said she has seen a presentation on the Road to Zero document but finds safety a complex issue.

“The reasons for the road toll are many and varied,” she said.

The government’s release of the Road to Zero strategy comes weeks before NZTA is expected to come back to Wairarapa about the dangerous section of SH2 between Masterton and Carterton.

NZTA was vague on Thursday on whether the Road to Zero plan would affect work being planned.

Mayors and the public are becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of a resolution for the dangerous stretch.

“The potential for a fatal accident makes it very serious,” Booth said.

“It is frustrating especially as we are seeing a number of recent accidents at intersections along this stretch of SH2.”

Patterson said the worry was that even if a plan gets approved, it is unsure if there will be funding for what needs to get done.

She feels Wairarapa is a bit of a “forgotten region”.

Pauling said he hoped to see a long-term plan for the whole network and short-term safety improvements implemented as funding became available.

“Then we can see what we are working towards.”

Mark Owen, NZTA regional transport systems manager said the agency “will be talking with the community in the coming months to seek their feedback on proposals for making this road safer”.

“We are also aware that speed is a concern on this section of road and will consider this as part of our efforts to make this road safer,” Owen said.

“It’s important to note that getting changes to speed limits – temporary or permanent – is a legislative process, and so is not a quick one.

“This is an important project for us, and we are keen to take the steps that will help prevent deaths and serious injuries both now and into the future.”