A deadly stretch of Kapiti Coast road has claimed another life in a head-on collision, with authorities called on to rethink a scrapped safety barrier for the section.
A man died and a woman was injured in the smash yesterday, which resulted in traffic being banked up in and out of the capital on State Highway 1 for three hours.
The crash occurred at 1pm, south of Paekakariki near Fishermans Table, just one kilometre north of where the highway's safety barrier ends.
There have been seven deaths from four head-on crashes within a few kilometres of yesterday's fatality since 2000, many of which involved cars drifting across the centre line.
In 2010, the New Zealand Transport Agency decided against continuing the wire barrier about 3km from Centennial Highway to Paekakariki because it would have cost too much.
That proposed barrier would have covered the same stretch of highway where the latest crash occurred.
Kapiti-based regional councillor Nigel Wilson said the Transport Agency was at least partly responsible for the latest death.
"It was an insane decision not to do it . . . They're gambling with people's lives. Honestly, I think the decision-makers, in this circumstance, have blood on their hands," he said.
"It's horrific. There are going to be people grieving in a situation that's avoidable."
The Transport Agency was not able to comment on pricing yesterday, or the safety policy for deciding exactly how and where median barriers were installed.
A spokesman said work had recently been done to upgrade the intersection at the Paekakariki Hill Road and SH1, and $1m was also spent this year on a new surface along the stretch of road near Fishermans Table.
But Mr Wilson said price should not be a factor. The wire barrier along Centennial Highway, just south of yesterday's crash, had saved many lives, he said.
"It's not a guess, we know it [a barrier] saves lives. This has been a consistent message here, but it's been consistently ignored. How much are human lives worth?
"It's like they've said, ‘we know people will die here but we've done the sums'. That's not a good way to plan safe roads. I hope this time the message will get through."
Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of The Dog & Lemon Guide, yesterday echoed Mr Wilson's concerns and said he was disgusted that a large part of the road remained unprotected.
"This accident would probably not have occurred if there was a wire rope median strip to separate opposing lanes of traffic," he said.
Police have said the man, in his late 20s, died at the scene after it appeared his southbound car was struck by another car, driven by the woman, travelling in the opposite direction.
The woman, in her 50s, appeared to have crossed the centre line and clipped another car before smashing into the man's vehicle, police said.
A Wellington Free Ambulance spokeswoman confirmed the man had died in the crash, while the woman had suffered moderate head, face and chest injuries.
Traffic was diverted via the Paekakariki Hill Road for three hours, only reopening to both lanes about 4pm.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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