Im­prove­ments and safety work be­gins on some of 11 ru­ral state high­ways this week and con­tin­ues un­til July

Whanganui Chronicle - - Front Page - Derek Cheng

Safety im­prove­ments like these stop sim­ple mis­takes turn­ing into tragedies. Julie Anne Gen­ter

The Parapara high­way be­tween Whanganui and Raetihi will ben­e­fit from a $20 mil­lion road safety fund­ing pack­age an­nounced this week by As­so­ciate Trans­port Min­is­ter Julie Anne Gen­ter.

The no­to­ri­ous stretch of State High­way 4 was one of 11 tar­geted high­ways that did not have the high­est lev­els of traf­fic, but were full of risky sec­tions such as sharp cor­ners and nar­row stretches, Gen­ter said.

Rum­ble strips, safety bar­ri­ers and wider shoul­ders will be in­stalled as part of the next stage in the Safety Boost Pro­gramme which cov­ers 670km across 11 ru­ral state high­ways.

“The 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.

Rum­ble strips can re­duce fa­tal run-off-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 started this week and is ex­pected to be fin­ished by July.

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

The road toll was 379 in 2018, the high­est since 2009.

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

She said then 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 in 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 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 Na­tional has put up hoard­ings to co­in­cide with busy hol­i­day traf­fic on high­ways be­tween Wells­ford and Te Hana (North­land), Otaki and Levin, in Te Puna (Bay of Plenty), and in Can­ter­bury.

The se­ries of three hoard­ings near Wells­ford says: “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 se­ries of hoard­ings “cyn­i­cal pol­i­tics” that show sup­port for “a hand­ful of gold-plated ex­press­ways”.

Photo / Be­van Con­ley

The Parapara Rd be­tween Whanganui and Raetihi will get some safety im­prove­ments.

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