May­ors de­mand ac­tion on state high­way be­fore hol­i­days

Horowhenua Chronicle - - NEWS -

The high num­ber of se­ri­ous mo­tor ve­hi­cle crashes, some re­sult­ing in fa­tal­i­ties, in less than two weeks on State High­way 1 is to­tally un­ac­cept­able to the com­mu­ni­ties of Ka¯ piti and Horowhenua, say Mayor of Ka¯ piti Coast K. Gu­runathan and Mayor of Horowhenua Michael Feyen in a state­ment re­leased late on Wed­nes­day.

Both may­ors are de­mand­ing an ef­fec­tive and im­me­di­ate re­sponse from NZ Trans­port Agency (NZTA) be­fore the heavy hol­i­day traf­fic heads north. “That means now,” they said. The may­ors say two fa­tal­i­ties oc­curred on sec­tions of high­way that NZTA would claim have had “safety im­prove­ments” re­cently — at O¯ hau and the Waikawa Beach turnoff on the Manakau straight.

Lo­cal peo­ple are of the view and have tried to make NZTA un­der­stand that in fact the Waikawa turnoff is now more dan­ger­ous than be­fore, the may­ors say.

On the com­mu­nity’s be­half the may­ors are seek­ing an ur­gent meet­ing with NZTA’s se­nior lead­er­ship team to find a way to make changes be­fore there are more fa­tal­i­ties.

Feyen and Gu­runathan be­lieve that it is not sim­ply a mat­ter of re­duc­ing the speed limit, rather it is a case of mak­ing phys­i­cal safety im­prove­ments. NZTA has pub­licly stated that it will fund and build them, but it is im­per­a­tive that this is done im­me­di­ately with a clear start date.

“These re­cent tragic ac­ci­dents con­tinue the ob­ser­va­tion of for­mer coro­ner Philip Comber who noted that, over the past 25 years, the roads had be­come ‘a killing field marked like a bat­tle­field with white crosses’,” said Gu­runathan.

“I want to ap­peal di­rectly to Trans­port Min­is­ter Phil Twyford to step in as this sys­temic killing field sce­nario is con­trary to his govern­ment’s stated GPS [Govern­ment Pol­icy State­ment] pri­or­ity on safety.

“Peo­ple in O¯ taki are vul­ner­a­ble be­cause they are forced to travel north to Levin and Palmer­ston North for ac­cess to a lot of their ser­vices. O¯ taki res­i­dents rush­ing to ac­cess health ser­vices have to ne­go­ti­ate this killing field.”

Feyen said there were “nu­mer­ous im­prove­ments that can be de­liv­ered by NZTA right now that will make an im­me­di­ate dif­fer­ence”.

“None of these are ex­ces­sively costly in the greater scheme of things. What price can be put on hu­man life?

“NZTA has to ac­cept that the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties have had enough and fur­ther de­lays are not an op­tion.”

O¯ taki MP Nathan Guy is wad­ing into the de­bate on road safety with the fol­low­ing state­ment:

“My sym­pa­thy goes out to those who have lost loved ones in the re­cent car crashes around the elec­torate. It is ter­ri­bly tragic.

“I also feel for lo­cal po­lice, fire and am­bu­lance per­son­nel who do an out­stand­ing job in dif­fi­cult and of­ten sad cir­cum­stances. There has been too much car­nage on our lo­cal State High­way.

Im­me­di­ate ac­tion is needed to make this deadly sec­tion of SH safer es­pe­cially with heavy hol­i­day traf­fic just around the cor­ner.

“NZTA have been way too slow mak­ing a de­ci­sion on the O2NL ex­press­way.

“Their dec­sion to make this road a two-lane high­way rather than a four-lane ex­press­way is short sighted.

“It is a kick in the guts to the lo­cal Horowhenua com­mu­nity and mo­torists.

“Ve­hi­cle registrations around the coun­try are in­creas­ing at a rate of 200,000 a year and in ten years there will be 5.2 mil­lion cars on our roads, mean­ing an ex­tra mil­lion by the time the new high­way is com­pleted.”

Horowhenua Mayor Michael Feyen and Ka¯ piti Coast Mayor K. Gu­runathan.

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