End of line for over­bridge

South Taranaki Star - - FRONT PAGE - CATHER­INE GROENESTEIN

A long-awaited by­pass at Nor­manby is open.

Traf­fic is now us­ing the newl­y­sealed high­way that by­passes a stretch of road and the notorious over­bridge where, since 1995, three fa­tal crashes and nine se­ri­ous in­jury crashes have re­sulted in seven deaths and 12 se­ri­ous in­juries.

The next step for the project is the re­moval of the ex­ist­ing bridge and its south­ern ramp, which was sched­uled to be by the end of No­vem­ber. The bridge struc­ture would be taken down on Oc­to­ber 28-30, NZ Trans­port Agency (NZTA) high­way man­ager Ross I’An­son said.

At present traf­fic on the new route is re­stricted to 30km/h, and this would re­main un­til the project is com­plete in late Fe­bru­ary.

‘‘We will mon­i­tor this closely and, if we can safely in­crease this to 50 km/h, we will do so,’’ I’An­son said. ‘‘¸We urge mo­torists to keep to the posted re­duced speed lim­its and to care­fully ob­serve the sig­nage di­rect­ing them on to the cor­rect routes. This will help keep ev­ery­one safe in­clud­ing other drivers and the road work­ers in the area.’’

Ap­prox­i­mately 6000-7000 ve­hi­cles used the sec­tion of high­way per day.

Downer project man­ager Daryll Walker said lo­cal busi­nesses and the com­mu­nity had been very sup­port­ive of the team work­ing to cre­ate the new by­pass.

Fund­ing for the by­pass came af­ter years of strong cam­paign­ing from South Taranaki District coun­cil­lors and oth­ers.

MP for Whanganui Ch­ester Bor­rows was rapt the new road was fi­nally open. Bor­rows’ said his cam­paign­ing for the bridge to be re­placed be­gan decades back, while he was a po­lice of­fi­cer in South and Cen­tral Taranaki.

‘‘As any­one who has been in­volved with South Taranaki emer­gency ser­vices over the last 30 years knows, this bridge has seen too many in­juries and fa­tal ac­ci­dents. It took far too long, I am re­ally pleased the Govern­ment has got it done.’’

In No­vem­ber 2015, ex­ca­va­tions for the by­pass un­cov­ered a marae or pa site that was be­lieved to be the lo­ca­tion of the Ketemarae Pa. Its dis­cov­ery de­layed work while a so­lu­tion ac­cept­able to Her­itage New Zealand and the Arakuuku Hapu was found, with the fi­nal de­ci­sion be­ing made to build the road over the site in­stead of go­ing through it, which would have re­quired ex­ca­va­tion.

ANDY JACK­SON/FAIR­FAX NZ

The Nor­manby over­bridge re­align­ment project is al­most com­plete.

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