$20m to fix killer high­ways

The Dominion Post - - Front Page - Thomas Manch and Tom Hunt

Fam­i­lies of those killed on no­to­ri­ous Gis­borne state high­ways are hope­ful a $20 mil­lion safety boost will save lives.

Rum­ble strips, road­side safety bar­ri­ers in high-risk ar­eas, and wider road shoul­ders are ‘‘low­er­cost’’ safety mea­sures set to be in­stalled over the sum­mer pe­riod, As­so­ciate Trans­port Min­is­ter Julie Anne Gen­ter an­nounced yes­ter­day.

The safety up­grades are be­ing wel­comed by the fam­i­lies of Erica Jones, 26, and Free­dom Morunga, 21 – both of whom died on Gis­borne’s high­ways last year.

But con­cerns the lower-cost mea­sures are just a ‘‘Band-aid’’ so­lu­tion are shared by a road safety ex­pert.

Jones was the sole oc­cu­pant of a car trav­el­ling on State High­way 35, north of Gis­borne, when it col­lided with a log­ging truck on the morn­ing of Novem­ber 10.

Fam­ily spokesman and cousin Matai Rangi Smith said the safety im­prove­ments were needed for the road, which was well known in the district for be­ing treach­er­ous.

‘‘What­ever the Govern­ment is plan­ning to do will be wel­come with open arms, be­cause since Erica’s crash I know that re­cently we’ve had a few more in­stances of death . . . hope­fully, it’s not just a Band-aid.

‘‘There are no favourable com­ments about what hap­pens on that State High­way 35 any­more, ev­ery­one, when­ever you think of that now, you think of all of these deaths that are con­stantly hap­pen­ing there.’’

Me­dian bar­ri­ers – an ex­pen­sive safety mea­sure that can

sharply re­duce the num­ber of head-on col­li­sions – would be ‘‘ab­so­lutely use­ful’’ if in­stalled.

Sonny Morunga’s daugh­ter, Free­dom, died in a head-on col­li­sion with a truck on State High­way 2, be­tween Gis­borne and Wairoa, in June.

Morunga won­dered how ef­fec­tive rum­ble strips would be, and whether his daugh­ter would have been here for Christ­mas if they had been in­stalled.

He fre­quently drove be­tween Gis­borne and Wairoa and had seen his share of near-misses. Any safety im­prove­ment to the road was a good thing, he said.

Clive Matthew-Wil­son, ed­i­tor of the car re­view web­site Dog And Lemon, said the mea­sures were ‘‘plain Kiwi com­mon-sense’’ but he was dis­ap­pointed that me­dian bar­ri­ers hadn’t been in­cluded in the cur­rent up­grades.

‘‘New Zealand roads are like a stair­case with­out a handrail, you make a mis­take, you’re go­ing to get hurt.

‘‘Auck­land Har­bour Bridge used to have one se­ri­ous ac­ci­dent a week. By sim­ply in­stalling me­dian bar­ri­ers, the ac­ci­dents stopped overnight.

‘‘The Gis­borne road­ing im­prove­ments work on the same prin­ci­ple but they won’t be so ef­fec­tive.’’

In a state­ment, Gen­ter said the fund­ing was tar­get­ing ru­ral roads that had risks in­clud­ing sharp corners and nar­row stretches.

Ru­ral high­ways to be im­proved with the fund in­clude SH35, from To­laga Bay to Gis­borne, and SH2 cov­er­ing Matawai to Gis­borne, south to Wairoa and State High­way 5 to Te Haroto. High­ways in Manawatu-Whanganui and the West Coast will also be in­cluded.

The safety up­grades were sim­ple and could be put in place quickly over sum­mer, she said.

Erica Jones

Free­dom Morunga

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.