The Tasman District Council is getting a roasting over its removal of road marker posts, and is being accused of putting cost-cutting ahead of safety.
Now the council is backtracking, saying residents should contact it with any particular safety concerns.
The Nelson Mail has reported that rural communities are alarmed at the new policy, which has seen the gradual removal of road safety marker posts on country roads, and centre white lines and road edge lines not being repainted. Local roads will have road markings only if there is a safety issue such as a sharp curve.
The council says the policy has saved more than $250,000 this year, and that research shows that the absence of markers results in drivers slowing down.
Mapua resident Rob Clarke said that Higgs Rd connecting the old main road to the Mapua village used to be marked but now had no white lines and markers.
"It's very scary - cars now doing 60 to 70kmh and in the centre of the carriageway, and at night it just becomes a drag strip for boy racers."
Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said today that while road engineering costs were rising, the council was not getting more funds from the Government.
"We're having to choose where to save money, and road markings on low-traffic roads is one of those.
"However, if anyone is concerned, they should write to me or our engineering staff. We are happy to relook at any roads."
Farmer Kaye Register said the Tadmor-Glenhope Rd had been resealed and a one-kilometre section now had no centre line.
"Driving during the day, when it's fine and there's good visibility, it's OK, but at night it's dangerous.
"It's a safety issue. You're coming home and you don't know where the road is, especially in the fog which Tadmor Valley is notorious for."
Online reader John said he was a regular user of McShane Rd off Lower Queen St in Richmond, and sometimes felt he was taking his life in his hands travelling down the narrow 80kmh road.
More than a year ago, half the road was resealed and the white centre line was not repainted, although the southern half still had a centre line, he said.
"McShane Rd can hardly be called a back country rural road. It is a main industrial thoroughfare for dozens of logging trucks and other heavy vehicles servicing the Lower Queen St industrial plants.
"These vehicles take up much of the road width, but there is now no guiding centre line to define where they should be, and they are incredibly intimidating and unnerving when approaching at 80kmh along this road. There are large, deep open ditches to either side of the road, so there is no safe verge to pull off on to.
"The thought process that has gone into this form of cost-saving borders on insanity - at best it is totally irrational, but has come to represent the type of decision-making we increasingly see from our local council.
"What is the value of a life, and who at TDC will stand up and be accountable when someone is pulled out of a ditch or head-on accident in McShane Rd or any other where these ludicrous cost savings have been implemented?"
Online reader Don called the policy decision narrow-minded. "Just shows the council has no concerns over road safety at all, other than collecting money from road users."
Another online reader, "Rodders", noted the NZ Transport Agency "Guidelines for Rural Road Marking and Delineation".
He said the NZTA-reported accident reductions would seem at odds with the council's data, such as: "Edge marker posts can address lost control accidents, particularly those at night, and have been shown to reduce accidents on curves between 32-67 per cent . . . and between 15-18 per cent on total routes . . . Whereas the council data would appear to show that because traffic speeds are higher, edge markers actually increase the number of accidents?"
Another online reader questioned the council's reasoning.
"By that reasoning you should let the roads become potholed and that will slow them down even more, hell let's just stop fixing roads all together, then no-one could possibly have an accident."
Glenn said: "The less visual information available to drivers due to iced and fogged screens also slows them down. Doesn't make it a good idea though."
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