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A treacherous stretch of road linking Porirua and the Kapiti Coast with Hutt Valley has been the scene of a second loss of life in less than four months.
An Upper Hutt man, 28, was killed and two other people were taken to hospital after a three-vehicle crash on State Highway 58 at Haywards Hill, between Pauatahanui and Hutt Valley, early yesterday morning. The crash closed the road for several hours.
New Zealand Transport Agency has pledged to look into safety concerns over the black spot between Mt Cecil Rd and State Highway 2. Between 2009 and last year two deaths and 14 serious injury crashes happened there.
"[We] will be carrying out an immediate and full investigation in conjunction with other road safety authorities to understand what caused the crash and what might be done to prevent similar tragedies," NZTA Wellington highways manager Rod James said yesterday. It was exploring a lower speed limit and other options on which the public would be consulted later this year.
After a man died on SH58 in October, Wellington district road policing manager Inspector Donna Laban called it "the worst highway in the Wellington region".
Mt Cecil resident Jo McCready said: "We are the ones who watch the helicopters land on SH58 and we are the ones who every time we watch our husbands or parents or children go out on that road feel ill when we hear the sirens. We've known it's unsafe for a long time, and it's getting worse."
According to the KiwiRAP road assessment programme, the road has a black rating - the most dangerous - for "collective" driving risk and a low-medium rating for personal risk. This means that, while the chances of individuals having a serious accident are relatively low, the level of traffic ensures many accidents.
It ranks the Rimutaka Hill Road as the region's worst, giving it a "double black" rating.
Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy said "stopgap" measures such as speed reductions were not good enough, and he called for urgent investment.
Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace said he would "certainly support" measures to improve safety.
- The Dominion Post