Politicians vow to upgrade danger spot

LAIRD HARPER
Last updated 05:00 11/01/2013

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New safety improvements to the Normanby Overbridge have been cautiously welcomed by the district's top political figures.

Although both Whanganui MP Chester Borrows and South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop say remedial work on the notorious stretch of road was pleasing, neither saw it as the final step.

New Zealand Transport Agency regional state highways manager David McGonigal said the work, which would include enhancements to the road to help prevent loss of control crashes, would run alongside an independent review of the site.

The NZTA announced the review after a double fatality crash near the bridge early last month.

Signs and guardrails had already been installed and work on the bridge would start soon, he said.

"The report will help us identify any further measures that will help to protect motorists along this stretch of highway.

"Including around the intersection where last year's tragic fatal crash happened."

The draft report had been completed and was being peer reviewed prior to its release, Mr McGonigal said.

Whanganui MP Chester Borrows said the review would look at the priority given to the proposed realignment of the road around the rail crossing.

"All of these steps have been flagged over the past few months, but I am glad to finally see progress, though nothing will fully satisfy the people of South Taranaki until the road is realigned as planned."

Mr Dunlop also reiterated the need for the realignment.

"These improvements are all helpful but the real issue is the need to get the complete upgrade back onto the agenda," he said.

"The last terrible double fatality has highlighted, even to those who were quick to blame driver incompetence, that this is a very hazardous piece of road and that innocent people driving carefully are at risk. I intend inviting NZTA chief executive Geoff Dangerfield and the Minister of Transport, Gerry Brownlee, to come and look for themselves."

In December, Stratford Mayor Neil Volzke slated the review as nothing but a PR exercise and a charade.

At the time, he said if the review just talked about road markings and signs it would be a cop out.

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

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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