Bridge safety review slated as 'charade'

Normanby Overbridge
Normanby Overbridge

A proposed safety review of the Normanby overbridge and its approaches is nothing but a PR exercise and a charade, Stratford mayor Neil Volzke says.

The New Zealand Transport Agency announced the review after Saturday's double fatality crash near the bridge.

Yesterday, Mr Volzke told the regional transport committee he was cynical about the review and was concerned it would have a pre-determined outcome - a band aid. If the review just talked about road markings and signs it would be a cop out, he said.

"A clayton's review. We already know it is a dangerous and unsafe road. It's a fact."

The details for a realignment of the bridge are parked in an office south of here, he said.

"The solution is not a review. The solution is to get [the project] out of the drawer and do it."

South Taranaki district councillor Gordon Lawson said it was the bend in the intersection that was the major problem.

"Vehicles indicating to turn right stop in the middle of the road and cars on the bend have nowhere to go. I can't see what another review is going to do. It is going to tell us the same thing. The road needs straightening."

New Plymouth district councillor Marie Pearce said the margin for driver error on the Normanby overbridge would not improve when the work was finished. "It will still be a dangerous bridge."

The committee decided to send the NZTA a clear message to go back to the original plan and get the work done as soon as possible.

However, despite the committee ranking the Normanby overbridge realignment and the Vickers Rd upgrade equally, the NZTA last month decided it would go ahead with New Plymouth's Waiwhakaiho bottleneck and make safety improvements at Normanby.

NZTA regional state highways manager David McGonigal said barrier improvements on the bridge would be completed by Christmas. Road resurfacing, improved markings and delineation and electronic warning signs would be in place by mid February. "The temporary speed limit is now permanent."

Mr McGonigal also gave a progress report on the Waiwhakaiho/Vickers Rd upgrade.

The next stage was the detailed design process, he said. Tenders would be called before Christmas and the consultant would be on board by February.

Construction would start at the end of 2013 or early 2014.

Taranaki Daily News