Resident signs on to warn drivers

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 12:00 09/10/2012

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The signs have been pulled down but the danger remains, says a Feilding resident concerned about a hazardous intersection near his home.

Kawakawa Rd resident Trevor Smart said he would not give up on his mission to ensure the 100kmh zone at the Stewart and Awahuri roads intersection is upgraded.

He and his partner Jillian Morris have lobbied Manawatu District Council to do something about the tight turn-off to Bulls.

Police agree the intersection is "difficult".

The original sign that Mr Smart put up last Thursday criticising the council was taken down within 24 hours.

So he promptly erected another one.

He drives by the spot every day and has a third sign at the ready for the moment his latest instalment is taken down.

He said the new sign warned drivers not only about the intersection, but the full length of Awahuri Feilding Rd.

"There's at least five deaths that I know of . . . which is a lot for one little stretch of road."

Palmerston North Rural Area Inspector Mark Harrison said the intersection was "difficult for drivers to negotiate".

"Certainly we are mindful of where the crashes are and we do take note," Mr Harrison said.

The first step for police was to evaluate which roads presented issues for drivers and then work with local authorities to address areas that needed engineering work.

For example, the stretch close to where Kawakawa Rd intersects with Awahuri had its speed limit dropped from 100kmh to 80kmh, Mr Harrison said. But Awahuri Rd was a common site of crashes.

"Personally, [I think] it's a very, very difficult corner to negotiate. Hopefully, people appreciate how difficult it is to negotiate and do take that extra care."

He could recall a fatality in 2008 at that particular intersection, involving a collision between a tractor and car which killed the car's two occupants, a 49-year-old father and his 4-year-old daughter.

Mr Harrison said the decision to decrease a speed limit on a road deemed hazardous usually resulted from co-operation between police, local authorities and residents.

"Quite often this has come about as a result of submissions from the local community," he said.

Council roading manager Wayne Keightley said a stopbank perpendicular to the turn-off to Bulls had been shaved back, and an application for funding as part of a 10-year road safety plan had been lodged for improvements throughout the district, with Awahuri Rd on top of the list.

But Mr Smart was unconvinced.

"Is someone else going to die before then? I'm not going to give up."

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- Manawatu Standard

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