Drivers fear head-on crash

"I don't think they've quite got it right"

JENNA HOUGHTON
Last updated 05:00 28/12/2013
road full
ANDY JACKSON

Make way: The closed off passing lanes on SH3 have made lanes too narrow for heavy traffic.

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Bus and truck operators are adding their voices to criticism of road changes between Bell Block and Brixton.

They fear the temporary barriers have made State Highway 3 dangerously narrow on the hill near the airport.

Last week, passing lanes were closed and the speed limit was reduced on State Highway 3 to combat road accidents over the summer months.

But Clarry Withers from Withers Coachlines has said the temporary lanes on the hill are too narrow.

"I called NZTA (New Zealand Transport Association) and said the engineer needs to have his head read," he said.

Mr Withers feared there would soon be a head-on crash if something wasn't done about it, particularly as the road was already in poor condition.

Hooker Pacific Taranaki manager Wayne Mehrtens also has concerns over the new system, which he has voiced to the Road Transport Association. The firm has also advised its staff to take extra care.

"I don't think they've quite got it right," he said.

"I would hate not to have said anything and seen something in the paper."

The narrow lanes could result in an accident, if not head-on then as a result of larger trucks veering over the middle line.

Mr Mehrtens suggested putting in a median strip and moving the barrier halfway into the left lane, which he said would make "a whole lot more sense and the road a whole lot more safe".

Concern is heightened as more visitors travel our roads over summer, not expecting the level of markings and changes.

NZTA spokesman Anthony Frith said now that the agency was aware of the issues, it would look into the matter.

"We will be inspecting to make sure it's compliant and make any changes if necessary," he said.

The speed reduction and closure of the passing lanes between Bell Block and Waitara have caused a stir over the past week.

However, many people support the 80kmh speed limit, which Mr Mehrtens said should be the limit the entire way to Waitara.

"We need a little bit of consistency," he said.

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