Par­ents des­per­ate for ac­tion

Kapi-Mana News - - PUZZLES - By BEN STRANG

Con­cerned par­ents are tak­ing safety into their own hands in Otaki, mak­ing large ‘‘slow down’’ and ‘‘chil­dren cross­ing’’ signs to draw at­ten­tion to what they say is a dan­ger­ous cross­ing area on State High­way 1.

How­ever, just a day af­ter four signs were erected last week, two were stolen.

Par­ents Shel­ley War­wick and Leigh Rau made the signs af­ter fruit­less at­tempts to get im­prove­ments to the stretch of State High­way 1 north of Otaki, where chil­dren cross in both di­rec­tions on their way to and from Otaki Col­lege and Waitohu School.

Mrs War­wick said she has had enough af­ter about 20 years of fight­ing to get safety at the cross­ing in­creased. ‘‘It’s just re­ally dan­ger­ous,’’ she said. ‘‘ Since we have talked with [ the NZ Trans­port Agency] they have put up a cou­ple of lit­tle signs but it isn’t enough.’’

Mrs War­wick said larger and bet­ter placed signs were needed but an un­der­pass should be built through an al­ready used route un­der the high­way, to get chil­dren off the main high­way.

‘‘At the mo­ment you get into the mid­dle of the road, and there is not enough room to get out of the way of the trucks and buses com­ing past.’’

Mrs War­wick said they put the signs up on Tues­day morn­ing, and yes­ter­day morn­ing no­ticed the larger green signs had been stolen.

‘‘It is a bit dis­ap­point­ing, but we are go­ing to get some card­board and make some big new ones. They won’t last in the rain but they are eas­ily re-made.’’

She said the signs were prob­a­bly stolen for scooter ramps by stu­dents.

Waitohu School prin­ci­pal Maine Cur­tis said he wants an un­der­pass built ‘‘as soon as hu­manly pos­si­ble’’ to en­sure the safety of school chil­dren.

‘‘ The great thing about this is there is a place there to put an un­der­pass in, which would not take that much ef­fort.’’

Signs erected by New Zealand Trans­port Agency last Fri­day would not make much dif­fer­ence to traf­fic us­ing SH1, he said, and money should not be a fac­tor in build­ing an un­der­pass.

‘‘About $1 bil­lion is be­ing spent [on roads] in­side the KCDC [Kapiti Coast Dis­trict Coun­cil] catch­ment in­side the next 10 years, so you can’t say that this would be a fi­nan­cial risk.’’

Sergeant Noel Big­wood said the cross­ing was a con­cern for po­lice, and they tar­get speed­ing mo­torists along the stretch.

‘‘Peo­ple ac­cel­er­ate up the ramp and don’t slow down com­ing into town, so it is well known for speed­ing driv­ers,’’ he said. ‘‘There are also a lot of crashes there, mainly from peo­ple go­ing too fast and caus­ing nose to tails.’’

He said po­lice will con­tinue to pa­trol the stretch of road in an at­tempt to slow traf­fic.

Welling­ton state high­ways man­ager Rod James said the agency was work­ing closely with schools and Kapiti Coast Dis­trict Coun­cil to make the stretch of road safer.

He said the road had a good safety record for pedes­tri­ans but he would like to see fur­ther safety work in light of the re­cent con­cerns.

‘‘The agency has re­sponded promptly to com­mu­nity con­cerns by installing a warn­ing sign to ad­vise mo­torists of the pres­ence of chil­dren cross­ing the road,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re also plan­ning to move the cross­ing to a safer spot with greater vis­i­bil­ity and we want to in­crease the size of the refuge area to re­duce the chance of chil­dren spilling out onto the road.’’

Mr James said larger signs were placed at proper ze­bra cross­ings and would be con­sid­ered if NZTA up­graded the cross­ing to a full ze­bra cross­ing. He said the idea of a sub­way had been raised but the agency would pre­fer a level cross­ing so­lu­tion where chil­dren were in plain sight.

Par­ents and teach­ers will put their case to the Otaki Com­mu­nity Board meet­ing on March 27.

Dan­ger­ous: School chil­dren dis­play home­made signs to slow traf­fic near the so-called cross­ing on State High­way 1 in Otaki.

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