'Many of us have lost people on this road': Residents have say on top of the south route

The public leave post-it notes to describe which sections of State Highway 6 need attention.
JEFFREY KITT/STUFF

The public leave post-it notes to describe which sections of State Highway 6 need attention.

Driver attitude, not just the road, needs to improve along a dangerous stretch of highway across the top of the south, Raymond Smith says.

The Picton man has lost two cousins to fatal car crashes on the State Highway 6 route between Blenheim and Nelson, and he says something needs to change.

"Many of us have lost people on this road. It's important that the roads are safe, and that the people using them are safe," Smith said.

The 115-kilometre route on State Highway 6 has been earmarked for upgrades after 20 deaths and 93 serious injuries on the road over 10 years.

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Smith was one of many Marlborough residents to offer their thoughts on the highway at drop-in sessions hosted by the NZ Transport Agency this week.

The highway crosses diverse landscape, with a combination of flat, rolling and winding terrain.
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

The highway crosses diverse landscape, with a combination of flat, rolling and winding terrain.

While lower speed limits and wider roads would improve the highway, Smith said drivers also needed to take responsibility.

"I'm really happy that this is happening because the road needs to be made safer, but it is the people that make the road unsafe too," he said.

"If we can pick out blind sections or straighten out others, it will have an impact."

The information session at the Marlborough Convention Centre on Wednesday.
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

The information session at the Marlborough Convention Centre on Wednesday.

An 8-metre map of State Highway 6 allowed members of the public to leave sticky notes and identify problem areas at the sessions.

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Canvastown and Pelorus Bridge were areas Smith identified as dangerous, while Kaituna, near Blenheim, attracted a lot of notes.

"Trucking [has] intensified from logging, dangerous as cars [are] flying," one note read.

Raymond Smith, right, points out problems on State Highway 6 to Geoff Evans, left, and
Brendan Burns at Wednesday's ...
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Raymond Smith, right, points out problems on State Highway 6 to Geoff Evans, left, and Brendan Burns at Wednesday's public information session.

"Not enough vision from here to Okaramio," another said.

The road between Blenheim and Nelson crossed diverse and changing landscapes with flat and rolling terrain from Blenheim, Renwick and Havelock to the Rai Valley. This transformed into winding and hilly terrain from Rai Valley to Nelson.

NZTA transport system manager Frank Porter said more than 200 people attended sessions in Nelson, Blenheim, Havelock and Rai Valley.

An information panel at Wednesday's meeting in Blenheim.
JEFFREY KITT/STUFF

An information panel at Wednesday's meeting in Blenheim.

Their views would be used to gain better understanding of the highway, Porter said.

"For example, one visitor has highlighted the importance of some trees along the route which are a home for bats. That sort of local knowledge is much appreciated," he said.

"We will carefully collate all this information which we expect will support the data we already have."

An 8-metre map of State Highway 6 between Blenheim and Nelson allows members of the public to identify problem areas.
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

An 8-metre map of State Highway 6 between Blenheim and Nelson allows members of the public to identify problem areas.

The next step would be the development of works to improve safety along the route, which could start next year, Porter said.

"The indicative budget at this early investigative stage is up to $25 million," he said.

The agency had previously suggested it was open to a number of safety features for the route, including side barriers, median barriers, wide centre lines, rumble strips, wider shoulders, better signage, improved intersections and speed reviews.

NZTA director of regional relationships Jim Harland said many crashes on the highway involved loss of control before hitting objects on the roadside such as trees or power poles.

"There have also been head-on crashes and some of these have been at intersections. Something has to change and that's why making this route safer is a priority," he said.

Feedback forms on the route would remain online until August 28. Visit the NZTA website for more.

 - The Marlborough Express

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