More changes to make high­way safer

CHB Mail - - News - By CLIN­TON LLEWELLYN

The NZ Trans­port Agency has an­nounced more changes for State High­way 2 be­tween Waipawa and Waipuku­rau.

The NZTA has al­ready an­nounced it will be in­stalling 3km of flex­i­ble me­dian bar­rier be­tween CHB’s two ma­jor towns to pre­vent head-on crashes, as part of a 14-month, $20 mil­lion safety up­grade of 38kms of SH2 be­tween Pakipaki and Waipuku­rau, which will be on­go­ing un­til July next year.

The agency has now re­vealed it will also be get­ting rid of the 100km/h pass­ing lane on SH2 just south of Waipawa, and will be ex­tend­ing the 50km/h speed limit from the town­ship across the Waipawa Bridge to past the north­ern en­trance to Ta­pairu Rd.

It says the new mea­sures will im­prove safety at the both the main south­ern as well as north­ern en­trance to Ta­pairu Rd — a move wel­comed by Waipawa-based sea­sonal truck driver, Kevin McCleary, who used the road up to three times a day dur­ing the re­cent ap­ple har­vest sea­son.

But while the new mea­sures were ‘en­cour­ag­ing’, he said they did not go far enough, par­tic­u­larly in re­gards to the north­ern en­trance of Ta­pairu Rd, which he and other heavy trucks used reg­u­larly dur­ing the har­vest sea­son.

“It’s been amaz­ing that – es­pe­cially at the north­ern en­trance – there hasn’t been a ma­jor ac­ci­dent this year.

“On one par­tic­u­lar day there were ap­prox­i­mately 55 heavy ve­hi­cle move­ments plus pack­house work­ers’ cars, shift work­ers and golf club mem­bers, in and out of Ta­pairu Rd alone,” he said.

NZTA has an­nounced it will cre­ate both left and right turn­ing bays at the south­ern en­trance to Ta­pairu Rd.

NZTA’s Re­gional Trans­port Sys­tems Man­ager Wayne Old­field said, to en­able traf­fic to con­tinue to en­ter and exit both ends of Ta­pairu Rd, there would be gaps left in the flex­i­ble me­dian bar­rier.

“Con­ver­sa­tions with the com­mu­nity, along with our safety in­ves­ti­ga­tions, high­lighted that the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple use the south­ern en­trance to Ta­pairu Rd as vis­i­bil­ity is bet­ter and the road is flat­ter. We found that a few sim­ple changes to this in­ter­sec­tion would make it even safer and en­cour­age

peo­ple to choose it over the north­ern one,” Old­field said.

As well as the new turn­ing bays, the pass­ing lane on the south­ward stretch of the high­way be­tween the two en­trances to Ta­pairu Rd, would be re­moved and re­placed with a wide shoul­der, he said.

“This will make it safer for mo­torists who cur­rently have to turn into and out of Ta­pairu Rd across the pass­ing lanes.”

Mr Old­field said some cost­ef­fec­tive im­prove­ments would also be made to the north­ern en­trance of Ta­pairu Rd, for driv­ers who chose to con­tinue to use it.

“The 50km/h speed signs in Waipawa town­ship will be moved fur­ther south, slow­ing traf­fic trav­el­ling past the north­ern en­trance to Ta­pairu Rd. This will make it safer and eas­ier to turn onto and off the high­way. We also plan to widen the road shoul­der around the north­ern en­trance to Ta­pairu Rd. This will cre­ate ex­tra room for traf­fic to pass ve­hi­cles wait­ing to turn.”

Mea­sures wel­comed

Kevin McCleary said ex­tend­ing the 50km/h limit would “cer­tainly be a ma­jor im­prove­ment” for the north­ern en­trance to Ta­pairu.

But he said NZTA should fo­cus on re­duc­ing the left-hand bend on SH2 to im­prove sight­lines and re­ac­tion times for north­bound traf­fic.

“With the huge in­crease of heavy ve­hi­cles now us­ing this high­way, NZTA could in­crease vis­i­bil­ity for north­bound traf­fic by shav­ing the bat­ted bend on the left hand road side be­fore the Ta­pairu north­ern en­trance and On­gaonga Rd.”

He also said sig­nage should be erected to alert north­bound traf­fic about the con­cealed north­ern en­trance to Ta­pairu Rd and the ap­proach­ing in­ter­sec­tion with On­gaonga Rd.

“Per­son­ally, I've been in touch with [NZTA] for some tem­po­rary sig­nage to warn mo­torists of turn­ing trucks and ve­hi­cles. But it comes to back to who's go­ing to pay for the signs.”

A “de­cent slip­way” into the north­ern en­trance of Ta­pairu Rd would also be far safer for lo­cals and heavy ve­hi­cles ac­cess­ing the road, he said.

“Heavy ve­hi­cles ex­it­ing On­gaonga Rd to go into Ta­pairu Rd would be able to ma­noeu­vre out of the south­bound traf­fic way quicker, rather than try­ing to get up to speed trav­el­ling up the hill to the south­ern en­trance,” Mr McCleary said.

The $20 mil­lion safety up­grade is be­ing un­der­taken in four stages start­ing from the north and head­ing south, with work be­tween Waipawa and Waipuku­rau in­cluded in the last sec­tion of the project, which is sched­uled to be com­pleted by July next year.

Photo: Clin­ton Llewellyn.

KEVIN McLeary pic­tured as a white semi-trailer, left, emerges from the north­ern en­trance of Ta­pairu Rd, just past the Waipawa Bridge, just as a north­bound truck on the right comes around the left hand bend on SH2. Speak­ing out “purely in the in­ter­ests...

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