Community ideas sought on how to make notoriously dangerous stretch of SH3 safer

The NZTA is holding public meetings later this month to discuss ways to improve the safety on the stretch of SH3 between ...
SIMON O'CONNOR/Fairfax NZ

The NZTA is holding public meetings later this month to discuss ways to improve the safety on the stretch of SH3 between Bell Block and Waitara.

They use it everyday and now people who live around the notoriously dangerous stretch of State Highway 3 between Bell Block and Waitara are being asked for ideas on how to fix it.

In June last year the stretch of highway was included in a $26 million government scheme to improve the safety on 10 of the North Island's worst carriageways. The work was expected to take up to two years. 

Now residents of Waitara and Bell Block have received a a letter from the NZ Transport Agency, NZTA, asking for their input on the highway at two public meetings later this month. 

SIMON O'CONNOR\Stuff.co.nz

Speed limit changes between New Plymouth and Waitara

In the letter, from NZTA principal planner Simon Barnett, it is stated the stretch of road had seen 25 deaths or serious injuries from car crashes in the five years from 2010 to 2014.

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The highway between the towns is also home to three of the country's worst 100 intersections.

"As members of the community you know the road better than anyone. We would like you to tell us how you use the route, what you think could be improved, and help us create solutions that work best for everyone," the letter states.

The letter also states residential and business growth in the area is expected to increase traffic congestion on the stretch fo SH3, making it even more difficult for drivers to access it from intersections.  

Lauren Thompson, who works at Bell Block Motors on the highway, said she sees close calls every day on the road and many customers vented their frustrations while filling up.

"The road is always busy and it's hard for traffic to get in and out of intersections," she said.

"The problem is really bad even though the speed limits been reduced to 80kmh, most people do 100kmh and don't seem to care."

She said many people had suggested putting roundabouts on the road but she believed it would help if motorists stuck to the 80kmh speed limit 

In 2013 the NZTA imposed temporary speed restrictions of 80kmh around the dangerous intersections and high crash rate areas. 

Those temporary measures were made permanent in 2016.

New Plymouth district councillor and Waitara resident Colin Johnston said work on the road was long overdue.

"They need to do something, they've been going on about it for a while," he said.

"I drive along that road every day, the camber's not correct and you can feel bumps in the road, there's no doubt it's rough," he said. 

 "I don't care what it costs, just repair the road properly."

Johnston said he would be going to a meeting and raising his concerns about the road and the Princess St intersection, which he said had seen a number of crashes lately. 

The first public meeting will be held at the Waitara Library on March 30 from 1pm to 7pm. The second will be held the next day at the Fred Tucker Memorial Community Centre in Bell Block on March 31 from 7.30am to 2pm.

 - Stuff

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