Truck traffic builds in Bulls

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 09:00 08/03/2014

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Rangitikei Mayor Andy Watson fears increasing numbers of logging trucks in the Santoft area are likely to worsen the traffic bottleneck in Bulls.

At a Horizons Regional Council meeting this week, he raised concerns about the effect the forestry operations could have on the roading network, especially at the intersection of State Highway 1 and SH3.

"There's about 100,000 tonnes of timber to come out in the next year - or about 14 or 15 logging units every day."

Mr Watson said the activity would add to difficulties at what was already a "very cluttered" intersection. "I would love to see funding for improvements."

The only current harvesting operations the Manawatu Standard has been able to confirm in the area this year are at the Ngati Apa-owned Brandon Hall Rd block, where the timber has been sold to Fortuna Forest Products.

The Bulls intersection is not on the New Zealand Transport Agency's priority list.

Regional highways manager David McGonigal said the agency's monitoring showed that it worked well.

"It does not experience significant or capacity problems, and in recent years it has experienced fairly static traffic numbers."

Mr McGonigal said the road layout provided enough turning space for all heavy vehicles of legal dimensions.

"The intersection sees around 12,000 vehicles pass through it every day, and we're confident that another 15 vehicle movements can be comfortably accommodated.

"We appreciate that heavy vehicles can seem disruptive in communities, and it's not always easy to strike an ideal balance for everyone.

"It's important to recognise that freight is a crucial part of a well-functioning economy and we have a responsibility to provide a state highway network that safely and efficiently fosters economic activity while also supporting communities."

Mr McGonigal said the agency appreciated the importance of the intersection, and would keep a watching brief on it.

There had been no reported serious or fatal crashes at the intersection in the past five years. That showed improvements were not warranted on safety grounds.

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- Manawatu Standard

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