Coroner: Otaihanga barrier redundant

Last updated 11:19 11/12/2013

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A wire median barrier is no longer needed to prevent deaths at a notorious blackspot near the Otaihanga turnoff, a coroner has said.

Coroner Ian Smith was hearing the inquest into Kelly Claire Thompson's death. The 17-year-old died in 2011 after the car she was driving crossed the centre line of State Highway 1 near the Otaihanga turnoff and collided with another vehicle.

The driver in the other car, a 40-year-old Levin man, was trapped in his vehicle for an hour. He was treated for multiple injuries.

Mr Smith said work on the new expressway meant things had moved on and there was no longer a need for the barrier.

The road would be handed back to the Kapiti Coast District Council once the expressway was finished.

Mr Smith heard that Ms Thompson had died from head and chest injuries and a report said it was possible she was distracted at the moment of the crash.

The New Zealand Transport Agency had been criticised for not going ahead with the barrier which had proved effective on other roads.

NZTA Central region highway manager Rod James said there had been opposition to the $2.9 million project from residents worried about accessing their properties.

To build the barrier NZTA also needed to purchase some property.

New work in the area, including a roundabout due to be completed early next year, reducing the speed limits and closing passing lanes had already made a difference, Mr James told the coroner.

Ms Thompson's parents, who attended the inquest, did not want to comment.

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- The Dominion Post

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