Bridge of evil, or just a simple solution?
Comments call for action againEDITORIAL
In the aftermath of the latest serious accident involving the Normanby overpass, a story we published online attracted a large number of comments.
Not surprisingly a significant portion of those comments called again for action towards the planned, but often put off, multimillion-dollar realignment of what has become a dangerous piece of roading.
But interestingly, an equally significant number suggested the overbridge was a roading red-herring, that driver error was as much, or more, to blame for the many accidents on or near the overpass as the narrow, curved line of the bridge itself.
Many of those who made such comments had another suggestion, seemingly born of common sense: assuming the overbridge was not the concrete ribbon of evil it was portrayed as, why not simply move the 70kmh sign to the northern side of the overpass so that, whether heading north or south, any driver heading over it would have to do so at a safer speed.
The idea makes such perfect sense that even politicians and roading authorities can see the benefit of it. The Taranaki Daily News understands Whanganui MP Chester Borrows and the New Zealand Transport Agency are working towards making that change.
It makes sense for a number of reasons. One of those is that moving the sign north will correct what has developed into a poor example of traffic management. Motorists heading north through Normanby, and especially those lacking in patience and unfamiliar with the road, have until now been encouraged, through the placement of the 100kmh sign, to put their foot down at the end of a straight and just before approaching a tricky, narrow piece of highway infrastructure.
But the biggest benefit will no doubt be the simple act of reducing speeds, which will mean little inconvenience for the motorist and, hopefully, a safer trip.
Interestingly, though, that's when things might get a little tricky.
If you follow the logic expressed by those online comments and general observations about driving habits, and if moving the 70kmh sign a couple hundred metres north proves a success, then does that undermine the original argument for realigning the road?
That will be an intriguing and possibly enticing thought for the region's roading and local-body leaders, and the national powerbrokers who make the real decisions and allocate the funds.
It's clear from our Regional Transport Committee and feedback to various stories that the claims of both the Waiwhakaiho Bridge and Normanby overpass are neck-and-neck in regional, strategic thinking - the committee could not separate them.
However, it's equally clear that there is not the money within the regional fund to build both projects in the near-future. Which means that moving a seemingly innocuous road sign a few metres, if it does happen, is going to get a great deal more attention than it might ordinarily receive.
And a number of people might, surprisingly, find themselves hoping it doesn't succeed.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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