Work due to start on roundabout

A new roundabout has been two years in the planning for Ascot. Collette Devlin speaks to residents, who say it will save lives.

Many Ascot residents and retailers have horror stories to tell about the intersection of Tay St with Racecourse and Rockdale roads at the eastern entrance to Invercargill.

The Rev Niwa Peipi and Belle Peipi, who live on the corner of Racecourse Rd, said they had seen many crashes as drivers tried to rush across the intersection.

On several occasions, cars had driven too fast, mounted the kerb and almost gone into their front fence.

"We have seen cars hit and people killed. It has been devastating," Mr Peipi said.

The couple believed traffic lights would have been a better option but were content the roundabout would save lives.

People using the old petrol station as a shortcut were also causing accidents, they said.

The NZ Transport Agency will begin work on the roundabout, which has been planned for more than two years, next week.

People who live and work nearby said it was better late than never.

Agency figures show there had been more than 40 crashes at the intersection in the past 10 years, with almost half of them resulting in injury.

Ascot Snipps Hairdressers part-owner Denise Stevens said: "I am excited. It's about time, we have seen plans for about two years." She has been in her store for about 42 years and said the area got congested and drivers turning right had to wait a long time for a gap.

"We have heard bang, crash and the tooting of horns so many times," she said.

Make N Bake owner, Tina Dawkes, said too many people were speeding on the road and used the turning bay into the shops as a lane. This caused further accidents when shoppers tried to reverse out of the car park.

The agency's Otago and Southland acting state highway manager, Simon Underwood, said it took about two years to complete the investigation and design process.

The roundabout was needed to improve safety and ease traffic congestion at the busy intersection, particularly during peak travel times, Mr Underwood said.

"Both Racecourse and Rockdale roads are widely used by heavy vehicles, such as trucks and schoolbuses, and more than 60 per cent of these are turning into, from or across Tay St at this intersection."

Invercargill City Council senior traffic management officer Eddie Cook said the area was notorious for crashes and there had been issues with getting funding.

The project supported the agency's Safe System Approach to road safety by reducing speeds through the intersection to make it easier for road users to cross, or turn to or from the highway. A new stormwater pipeline would also be installed, he said.

The transport agency awarded SouthRoads Ltd the $850,000 contract. The new roundabout is expected to be working by the end of April.

The Southland Times