Truckies say highway neglected

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2014

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Taranaki truckies are gearing up for a go-slow to protest their claim that the Government is starving the region's economically vital highway north.

They say a badly maintained State Highway 3 in north Taranaki is tearing their vehicles apart.

And the owner of one of the region's biggest trucking firms, John Hickman of JD Hickman, is now calling for a go-slow to get their point across to the Government.

"The plan is to travel everywhere at 70kmh," Mr Hickman said.

While the go-slow would save damage to trucks, make it easier on the drivers and lower costs "it would annoy a hell of a lot of motorists," Mr Hickman said.

Mr Hickman said the poor roads were causing damage to his trucks, which were unfairly being targetted by the agency's compliance officers.

The truckies' concerns came to a head yesterday with news that the New Zealand Transport Agency plans to spend $3.1m for a roundabout at the Waitomo Caves intersection, Road Transport Association western region spokesman Tom Cloke said.

NZTA spokeswoman Kate Styles said said the agency would strongly discourage the go-slow protest action, which would cause extensive inconvenience to motorists.

The most appropriate and constructive channel for the RTA was to continue to work with the transport agency and other partners through the SH3 strategic study.

The study was currently under way to identify options to make the route more safe, resilient and efficient and "to advise us directly of any day to day concerns so they could be addressed", she said.

The agency had been working to rigorously maintain and improve the condition of SH3 north, she said.

Taranaki highways were maintained to the same design standards as other comparable highways around the country, Ms Styles said.

Mr Cloke said his association met the agency in Hamilton yesterday to express their disapproval at what they believe was a waste of money at Waitomo when the road further south was being neglected.

While the option to move the Waitomo intersection further north was seen as a good option, it was sheer waste for $3.1m to be spent on a roundabout, he said.

The transport agency's principal safety engineer, Michelle Te Wharau, said the agency made no apologies for improving the safety for all motorists, which is what the roundabout solution would do.

Ms Te Wharau confirmed the agency met yesterday with the RTA and acknowledged their concerns and agreed to work with the association through the design process.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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