Alarm at roading changes

LAURA BASHAM
Last updated 13:00 08/08/2012

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Tasman District Council's policy of removing road safety marker posts on some rural roads is alarming locals.

Centre white lines and road edge lines are also not being repainted on some country roads.

The lines and the road edge markers are there for road safety, and the Road Code advises motorists to use markers to guide them when driving at night.

Jack Anglesey, of Tadmor, could not believe it when he saw marker pegs had been pulled out in his area this week.

"I reckon it's ridiculous. They were there for a reason for many years."

He questioned the cost of removing them and the potential danger.

The council says its policy has saved more than $250,000 this year and expects greater savings in the future.

It's been a gradual move, which the council has introduced to cut costs but also maintains it works to slow drivers.

Council transportation manager Gary Clark said in May the decision not to repaint white lines on sealed backcountry rural roads or install white roadside marker posts was backed by the council's need to cut costs and supported by research which found the less information drivers were given about the condition of a road the slower they drove.

Mr Anglesey has called Lakes Murchison ward councillor Stuart Bryant with his concerns about the cost cutting and impact on safety.

Mr Bryant told the Nelson Mail there had also been feedback from Golden Bay and Murchison as well as Tapawera where he lives.

He said the policy had been in place for 18 months but could not recall if he had voted for it.

Not all road markers were being removed, those that marked a hazard such as a bend would stay, but those on straight roads were taken out as it meant the council did not have to spray around them and it was easier for mowing, he said.

He acknowledged that the markers were there for road safety.

"I guess it's a different roading policy now. Our engineers tell us when there aren't road markers the drivers' speed lowers 5 to 10kmh because they aren't so confident on the road."

The same idea applied with the lines on secondary roads. While the road lines were not being removed, they were not being repainted.

Mr Bryant said the Murchison and District Community Council had raised concerns.

"Now they've grown to get used to it, although some people are still not happy."

A TDC report shows a review team made up of council and MWH roading staff came up with the new "road delineation policy" in 2010 to set a consistent standard.

It said it would take many years to fully implement as road markings could only be removed cost effectively by resealing, and the changes to the signs and edge marker posts would be part of the general maintenance cycle.

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A council spokesman said the work has been managed through attrition with broken markers not replaced or centre lines resprayed after resurfacing.

Now as the roads had a greater number of missing markers, all posts were being removed when other maintenance work such as roadside spraying was carried out.

NZ Transport Agency said it was Tasman District Council's role, as manager of its road network, to determine what safety measures were appropriate for the roads under its jurisdiction.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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