Residents concerned about SH1 safety

JOEL MAXWELL
Last updated 11:56 27/02/2014
Paekakariki crash
Joel Maxwell

Crash site: Troy Baker, left, Lisa Baker, Rhys Baker and Nonie McKeown at the scene of a crash on SH1 at Paekakariki.

crashed car
Joel Maxwell
Uninvited guest: Moments after a car smashed through two fences on its way to becoming wedged in debris on Monday in Paekakariki.

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The NZ Transport Agency will meet Paekakariki residents over safety improvements to a corner that has funnelled passing cars onto their doorsteps.

The State Highway 1 residents say it is only a matter of time before a resident or driver is killed, after this week becoming the scene of the fourth smash since 2008.

On Monday, Lisa Baker was making dinner in her home on the corner at the north of the village when she heard a clattering noise outside.

It was a grey hatchback breaking fence palings as it ran along her property edge then punched through her neighbour's fence.

She looked out her kitchen window and saw the car stopped in the corner of the two properties. The shaken driver eventually climbed out the hatch, she said.

It was lucky for the driver that he missed a concrete power pole "by centimetres" before his car became wedged in the fence, Ms Baker said.

She had moved into her new home just a month earlier with her husband and two sons.

"At that age they want to be outside . . . and all last night every time a truck made funny noise, I just had visions of something else coming through, because now there's no fence there."

Now she has joined her neighbour Nonie McKeown, also affected by Monday's smash, in a bid to have a safety barrier installed outside the eight homes in the settlement.

It comes after Ms McKeown received a letter from NZTA on December 17, saying a package of safety improvements for the area "would not be proceeding".

The letter said when Transmission Gully was completed, the current state highway would become a local road, and Kapiti Coast District Council might look at improvements then.

Transmission Gully is not set to be completed till at least 2020.

Ms McKeown said she had already lost a pair of sheds on the same corner when "two young men on the way to work" took out that whole section.

"The lucky thing is that so far there hasn't been a death yet, but there will be."

She said there had been four crashes on the corner since she moved to the house with her husband in 2008.

Ms McKeown said the plan had previously included extending the Centennial Highway wire barrier north, road widening and a rear access to the properties down a private road.

But she would be happy just to see a barrier running in front of the homes.

"Why should we not get, at least, a barrier or something to safeguard the kids, the people, the houses?"

Yesterday, Wellington highways manager Rod James said it was difficult now to justify the large project initially proposed, with the Gully project expected to start this year.

"Having said this, we are looking at other possible safety solutions that may be suitable for this section of road that fit with its future use.

"We are looking at some smaller targeted safety improvements to help prevent crashes, and that could be provided without the need for the land purchase and access restrictions that have been a factor in holding up the larger scheme."

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Mr James said staff would meet residents on-site next week and would keep an open mind about potential solutions.

- Kapiti Observer

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