Brakes put on Napier Road black spot

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 25/06/2014
Crash

HORROR INTERSECTION: There have already been four injury-accidents at the intersection of Roberts Line and Napier Rd in the past seven or eight months.

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Stricter speed restrictions could be imposed this week on a state highway heading out of Palmerston North after two crashes there in a month.

The speed limit for part of Napier Rd, currently 100kmh, will be temporarily reduced to 80kmh in a stretch out to 200 metres north of the Roberts Line intersection, and is expected to be in place by the end of the week, New Zealand Transport Agency regional state highways manager David McGonigal says.

The temporary speed reduction on State Highway 3 would remain in place until the agency could complete a formal review process and public consultation, expected to take place in August, regarding potential permanent changes.

"This will make the intersection safer in two ways; it makes crashes less likely to happen, and if they do happen, they're likely to be less severe," McGonigal said.

The speed reduction comes on the back of a crash at the intersection of Napier Rd and Roberts Line where a vehicle driven by a 20-year-old woman was in a collision with a vehicle driven by a 73-year-old man, just after 3pm on Monday.

The woman was trapped and had to be cut from the vehicle. She was taken to Palmerston North Hospital, initially believed to have been seriously injured, but was discharged yesterday.

McGonigal said the NZ Transport Agency was already in the process of a speed review, which had indicated a reduced speed limit would likely be appropriate.

Yesterday engineers received travel speed data taken from measuring devices on that stretch of road, and that information would help them identify what the appropriate speed limit should be in the long run, and what area it should extend to.

"However, after the crash on Monday, we moved swiftly to protect motorists."

Constable Warwick Denby, who attended the crash, said the female driver was "well beaten up", but "extremely lucky" to have come away without more serious injuries.

The man involved in the crash suffered minor injuries and was in discussions with police.

Sunstrike is believed to have played a significant role in the crash.

Denby said he went to the NZ Transport Agency yesterday morning to say something needed to be done urgently.

He had been to four injury-accidents at the intersection of Roberts Line and Napier Rd in the past seven or eight months, and didn't want to be called back there to a fatality, he said.

"I don't want people hurt, I'm sick and tired of it."

The NZTA had responded to him later in the day with news of the temporary speed reduction, and he was "rapt".

Crashes and near misses at the intersection had already prompted Melanie Luoni and Dileepa Rajapakse to create a Facebook page "Make Napier Road Intersections Safe".

The page, created on June 20 and also targeting the Napier Rd intersection with Stoney Creek Rd, had already received almost 500 "likes".

Before making the page, Luoni and Rajapakse had been in contact with the NZTA, asking for a speed limit reduction on Napier Rd.

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"The nature of the road has changed in the past 10 years, from a semi-rural road - it's now a major city intersection for this area of town [Kelvin Grove], and the speed limit and road layout hasn't kept up with that change."

Luoni said she had been so put off by the intersection at Roberts Line, she had changed her regular travel route to avoid using it.

Kelvin Grove resident Andy Stewart said he had "almost been taken out" on his motorcycle there in the past.

He had spoken to the Palmerston North City Council and NZTA, and told them he thought it was only a matter of time before someone was killed.

He thought it should be 70kmh out to James Line, and he wanted a school zone restriction for Whakarongo School.

Palmerston North City Council road planning team leader David Lane said the council "periodically" received calls from the public and passed on concerns to the NZTA.

The council shared concerns regarding the stretch of road and was keen to work with the transport agency to come up with a solution, he said.

- Manawatu Standard

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