Wire rope proving a lifesaver
Since 2005, 69 vehicles have hit the Centennial Highway wire rope median barrier but none of the accidents have been fatal.
Prior to the barrier being installed in 2004, the road between Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki had a lethal record.
In the five previous years there were seven fatal accidents, three serious injury accidents, two minor injury accidents and five non-injury accidents reported on it.
At the same time as the barrier was installed the speed limit was reduced to 80kmh.
In the following five years, there were 27 accidents from drivers hitting the median barrier, but no deaths and no injuries.
New Zealand Transport Agency Wellington operations manager Mark Owen said from the agency’s point of view the barrier had proved very satisfactory.
‘‘From a car damage perspective, it’s a bit softer on the car. Generally, they can drive away.’’
That means accident sites are more promptly cleared and the road was quickly flowing again, he said.
‘‘It’s also very easy to repair, just pop the posts out, replace them and then retension the wire, or we can pop the posts out and move the traffic to the other side.
‘‘It is a lot more flexible.’’
Similar barriers have since been placed on Hayward’s Hill, and on State Highway 2 around Silverstream, and a new one is being installed between Silverstream and Moonshine.
Mr Owen said four other new barriers were under investigation on State Highway 1 from Paekakariki to McKay’s Crossing, further north between Otaihanga and Waikanae and on State Highway 2 further north.
There will be more as the agency’s ‘‘ roads of national significance’’ are built, he said.
The barriers were the subject of intense criticism from motorcycling groups when a motorcyclist was killed on Auckland’s southern motorway after colliding with the wire.