Bar­rier pays off with saved lives

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KAY BLUN­DELL

The wire-rope me­dian bar­rier along Cen­ten­nial High­way is con­tin­u­ing to pre­vent head-on crashes as it chalks up more than 100 hits.

A south­bound Toy­ota Hilux, driven by a 65- year- old Kapiti man, clipped two ve­hi­cles this month, be­fore mount­ing the bar­rier and tak­ing out about 250 me­tres of it.

The driver, who is thought to have had a stroke, was flown by the West­pac res­cue he­li­copter to Wellington Hos­pi­tal.

One lane was closed by the ac­ci­dent, caus­ing long de­lays.

How­ever, NZ Trans­port Agency re­gional per­for­mance man­ager Mark Owen said that if the bar­rier had not been in place ‘‘mo­torists trav­el­ling in the op­po­site di­rec­tion would almost cer­tainly have been struck head- on with se­ri­ous or fa­tal re­sults’’.

A south­bound ve­hi­cle tow­ing a trailer stacked with wood re­cently had a tyre blowout, caus­ing the ve­hi­cle to crash into the bar­rier, dam­ag­ing about 80 me­tres of it, Kapiti po­lice said.

The 3.5 kilo­me­tre, $15 mil­lion bar­rier was in­stalled south of Paekakariki along the coastal route after strong lob­by­ing from emer­gency doc­tor Chris Lane, who at­tended most fa­tal and se­ri­ous ac­ci­dents along the treach­er­ous stretch of high­way for 25 years.

In 2005, after seven deaths from head-on crashes the pre­vi­ous year, coro­ner Garry Evans rec­om­mended a cable bar­rier be built from Pukerua Bay to Paekakariki as a mat­ter of ur­gency.

Owen said that, in the 10 years be­fore it was in­stalled in 2005, there were 15 fa­tal and se­ri­ous crashes, re­sult­ing in 16 deaths and 14 se­ri­ous in­juries on the sec­tion of high­way.

Since it was built – and ex­tended in 2007 – the bar­rier had been struck more than 100 times, ‘‘each in­volv­ing a po­ten­tially tragic crash that was averted’’, Owen said.

In that time, there had been no deaths and only one se­ri­ous in­jury crash.

‘‘ That is a mas­sive turn­around. The an­nual cost of crashes along this route has re­duced by 99 per cent, down from nearly $7m a year to around $65,000.’’

Work is un­der way on the Kapiti ex­press­way and Trans­mis­sion Gully sec­tions of the high­way and, when com­pleted be­fore the end of the decade, Wellington would have a fully di­vided north­ern high­way sep­a­rated by me­dian bar­ri­ers, he said.

per­for­manc’e NZ Trans­port Agency re­gional

man­ager Mark Owen Tragedy averted: A four-wheel-drive took out 250 me­tres of wire-rope me­dian bar­rier south of Paekakariki this month, block­ing State High­way 1, but the driver sur­vived and no­body else was hurt.

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