Bridge widening, barriers in the name of road safety

22:43, Jul 18 2014

Safety measures are being put in place to reduce the number of fatal and serious crashes on a stretch of State Highway 2 in northern Waikato.

The stretch of State Highway 2, from the SH1-SH2 interchange to the SH2-SH25 intersection, in the Thames district, recorded more than 30 fatal and many more serious crashes between 2004 and 2013.

Improvements suggested under the Transport Authority's Safe System Corridor project include bridge widening, barriers, road alignment and road widening.

NZTA expected most long-haul trucks to use the Waikato Expressway when it is completed in 2019 so it would not fully upgrade SH2, but due to the high volumes of tourist traffic it deemed it important to make the road safer.

A 7.4 kilometre section of the road, between the SH1-SH2 interchange and Mangatawhiri Stream, and a 9.5km section, just after Monument Rd to the SH2-SH25 intersection, will be widened and have wire median barriers installed.

While some SH2 residents were frustrated the median barriers would prevent them turning right out of their properties, most who spoke to Fairfax Media were glad something was being done to make the road safer.

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Maramarua's Jill Clark said the project "in the long run, would be ideal".

Fellow Maramarua resident Sharon Jones said a barrier on another part of SH2, referred to as Heaven's Straight heading towards Thames, had worked fine so she believed further barriers could work as well.

NZTA's principal safety engineer, Michelle Te Wharau, said the median barriers could save lives.

"Head-on crashes account for 23 per cent of all fatal crashes in New Zealand, yet more than 90 per cent of them could have been avoided by having a median barrier.

"Loss of control contributes to 40 per cent of all fatal crashes and these crashes would be less severe if there were median barriers on the road."

Turn-around bays would also be built for those who would no longer be able to turn right from their driveways, but they did involve homeowners having to travel further.

The project is not expected to start until late next year and will take three years to complete.

Waikato Times