A speed restriction on the Normanby overbridge and northern corner will come into effect by the end of next week.
Whanganui MP Chester Borrows held discussions with the NZ Transport Agency and Minister of Transport Gerry Brownlee to appeal for immediate safety measures around the notorious stretch while plans are made for where the funding for Taranaki's major roading projects is allocated.
He said yesterday that NZTA will move the 70kmh sign from the immediate Normanby outskirts - back across the bridge to the winding turn beside the Austin Rd intersection.
"Slow the traffic down prior to going over the bridge and traffic coming over from the Hawera side won't be increasing speed to the 100kmh limit."
David McGonigal, NZTA regional state highways manager, confirmed the plans. "One measure we've decided to adopt is extending the existing 70kmh speed restriction through Normanby to include the bridge.
"This will be done initially as a temporary traffic management measure by the end of next week and will become permanent following the gazetting process."
Other safety measures may be announced at a later date.
The response comes after public pressure to get Normanby as a funding priority from NZTA to realign the Ketemarae Rd section and remove the old bridge, compared to the Waiwhakaiho bottleneck in New Plymouth. This was magnified by the August 15 crash which injured 24-year-old Christopher Gay, the son of district councillor Kelly Judkins.
Mr Borrows said the speed change cannot come quick enough.
"I can't understand why a simple operation like digging up a road sign and putting it in 500m down the road needs to take days.
"But I'm told it will be days and not weeks."
NZTA will make public over the coming weeks just where money will be spent in Taranaki, either for the $19 million available in regional (R) funds or possibly including Waiwhakaiho in the National Land Transport Programme 2012-2015 - N-funds.
The Regional Transport Committee (RTC) in February voted against an NZTA mandate to pick one project or the other for regional priority and instead rated them both equal. While final plans still remain under wraps, Mr Borrows did not believe immediate changes for Normanby were now possible.
"I'm very disappointed the Normanby overbridge configuration is not on the plan for the next two years and I believe the RTC have not done us any favours at all by ranking the [projects] equally.
"They weren't put there to sit on the fence."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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