Govt drive for bet­ter roads

Gen­ter an­nounces $20 mil­lion to make state high­ways safer Large fight in Hutt

Bay of Plenty Times - - NATION - Derek Cheng — NZME

Rum­ble strips, safety bar­ri­ers and wider shoul­ders will be in­stalled as part of a road safety pack­age to im­prove ru­ral high­ways in Gis­borne, Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu-whanganui and the West Coast.

The next stage in the Safety Boost Pro­gramme — $20 mil­lion to up­grade 670km across 11 ru­ral state high­ways — was an­nounced yes­ter­day morn­ing by As­so­ciate Trans­port Min­is­ter Julie Anne Gen­ter.

“The Boost Pro­gramme in­cludes sim­ple safety up­grades that can be in­stalled quickly over the sum­mer pe­riod, such as rum­ble strips, road­side safety bar­ri­ers in high-risk lo­ca­tions, shoulder widen­ing, and im­proved sig­nage,” Gen­ter said.

The tar­geted high­ways did not have the high­est lev­els of traf­fic, but were full of risky sec­tions such as sharp cor­ners and nar­row stretches, she said.

Rum­ble strips can re­duce fa­tal runoff-road crashes by up to 42 per cent, while shoulder widen­ing at high risk sites can re­duce se­ri­ous crashes by up to 35 per cent.

“All driv­ers make mis­takes from time to time. Safety im­prove­ments like these stop sim­ple mis­takes turn­ing into tragedies,” Gen­ter said.

Work will start to­day and aim to be fin­ished by July.

Gen­ter said these im­prove­ments would be ad­di­tional to the 870km of up­grades in the Gov­ern­ment’s $1.4 bil­lion Safe Net­work Pro­gramme for high-vol­ume state high­ways, which hopes to save 160 lives and se­ri­ous in­juries by 2021.

Safety Boost has al­ready made up­grades — in­clud­ing al­most 2000km of rum­ble strips, 30km of road safety bar­ri­ers, and lower speed zones for high-risk in­ter­sec­tions — to roads in North­land, Taranaki, Manawatu¯wan­ganui, Otago and South­land.

The road toll was 379 in 2018, the high­est since 2009 and much higher than in 2013, when it was 253.

Last April, Gen­ter said the Gov­ern­ment would look at adopt­ing a tar­get of zero deaths and se­ri­ous in­juries on New Zealand roads.

She said at the time the tar­get would be “au­da­cious”, but all road deaths and se­ri­ous in­juries were avoid­able.

The Gov­ern­ment has not for­mally adopted a zero tar­get, and it will be part of a con­sul­ta­tion process on road safety dur­ing March and April.

Gen­ter, who has said it would take decades to see a sub­stan­tial re­duc­tion in road deaths and se­ri­ous in­juries, has ver­bally clashed with the Na­tional Party over the best way to im­prove road safety.

Last elec­tion Na­tional promised eight road­ing projects — in­clud­ing Mill Rd in South Auck­land, Auck­land’s east-west link, and a Napier-hast­ings four-lane ex­press­way — say­ing they are cru­cial to save lives and im­prove regional eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

The party has been push­ing for the projects ever since, in­clud­ing de­liv­er­ing eight pe­ti­tions — signed by more than 16,000 peo­ple sup­port­ing the high­way projects — to the trans­port and in­fra­struc­ture se­lect com­mit­tee.

This sum­mer the party has put up hoard­ings on stretches of high­way be­tween Wells­ford and Te Hana (North­land), Otaki and Levin, in Te Puna (Bay of Plenty), and in parts of Can­ter­bury. The se­ries of hoard­ings near Wells­ford has three mes­sages: ● West Coast

SH6 and SH67 be­tween Murchi­son and West­port SH7 from Han­mer Springs ● Gis­borne and Hawke’s Bay SH2 from Wairoa to Gis­borne SH35 from Gis­borne to To­laga Bay SH2 from Gis­borne to Matawai SH5 and SH2 to Te Haroto ● Manawatu-wan­ganui SH56 from Makerua to Palmer­ston North

SH57 from SH3 to SH56

SH3 from Palmer­ston North to Ash­hurst

SH4 from Whanganui to Raetihi SH54 from SH3 to Feild­ing “We know this traf­fic is a real pain”; “Na­tional was build­ing a 4-lane high­way here”; “but Labour can­celled it”.

The Gov­ern­ment has called the hoard­ings “cyn­i­cal pol­i­tics” that show sup­port for “a hand­ful of gold-plated ex­press­ways”. Eye­wit­nesses re­ports see­ing shot­guns and ma­chetes used in a large fight in Stokes Val­ley, Lower Hutt yes­ter­day af­ter­noon. So­cial me­dia users said the fight took place on Ge­orge St near De­lany Park and gun­shots were heard by mem­bers of the pub­lic nearby. One woman said the in­ci­dent took place near the in­ter­sec­tion of Speedy St, the fight tak­ing place in the park and over the road. “Huge group fight­ing in the park and over the road. Shot­guns and ma­chetes. Quiet now but still wouldn’t risk it,” the woman wrote. An­other woman told New­stalk ZB she heard “bangs” but only saw ma­chetes. A po­lice spokes­woman said po­lice were re­spond­ing to a dis­or­der in­ci­dent in Stokes Val­ley but lim­ited in­for­ma­tion was avail­able at edi­tion time.

Rum­ble strips are among $20 mil­lion in road safety mea­sures for 670km of ru­ral state high­ways an­nounced by As­so­ciate Trans­port Min­is­ter Julie Anne Gen­ter (pic­tured left). Pho­tos / File

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