Agency announces further changes to boost road safety
$20m SH2 upgrade over four stages and 14 months
The NZ Transport Agency has more changes in store 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 38km of SH2 between Pakipaki and Waipukurau, which will be ongoing until July next year.
The agency has now revealed it will also get rid of the 100km/h passing lane on SH2 just south of Waipawa, and will extend the 50km/h speed limit from the township across Waipawa Bridge to past the northern entrance to Tapairu Rd.
It says the new measures will improve safety at 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.
Although the new measures were “encouraging”, McCleary 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 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 regional transport systems manager Wayne Oldfield said that to enable traffic to continue to enter and exit both ends of Tapairu Rd, there would be gaps left in the flexible median barrier.
It’s been amazing that — especially at the northern entrance — there hasn’t been a major accident this year. Kevin McCleary, truck driver
“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.”
Oldfield said some cost-effective 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 on to 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.”
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 sight-lines 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 roadside before the Tapairu northern entrance and Ongaonga Rd.”
He also said signage should be put up 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 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,” McCleary said.
The $20m safety upgrade is in four stages, starting from the north and heading south, with work between Waipawa and Waipukurau included in the last section of the project, scheduled to be completed by July next year.
Waipawa-based truckie Kevin McCleary says NZTA needs to shave back the left-hand bend and also put up signage to alert northbound traffic about trucks turning out of the concealed entrance to Tapairu Rd.