New $150,000 safe stopping area for crash prone road near Lake Pukaki
Police and the AA are backing a new $150,000 safe stopping area expected to be installed on a stretch of road deemed "unsafe" near Lake Pukaki.
The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) confirmed the project would provide a safe stopping area and a photo stop opportunity on State Highway 8.
NZTA South Canterbury maintenance contract manager John Keenan said the area was currently "unsafe" and the area would act as a safety improvement for all road users.
"At present, drivers when sighting the view of Lake Pukaki/Aoraki Mount Cook as they travel south, sometimes stop on the blind curve/no stopping area opposite Hayman Rd, posing a hazard to themselves and other road users.
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"Drivers also stop at unsafe locations on State Highway 8 alongside Lake Pukaki. This new stopping area and a rationalisation of the lakeshore access points is intended to provide a much safer location for drivers to stop, take photos and view Lake Pukaki/Aoraki Mount Cook."
The new area would include advanced warning signs installed 200 metres from the area for both south and north bound traffic to advise motorists that a photo opportunity/stopping area was ahead.
Additional signage would also be provided at the intersection of State Highway 8 and Hayman Rd on the side of Lake Pukaki, with provision for about 30 vehicles, Keenan said.
There had been "a few near misses" which he hoped would be eliminated by this area.
In July Nigel Stuart Freeman, 72, of Twizel, and Australian man Stephen John Hayden, 46, died when two vehicles collided on State Highway 8 near Lake Pukaki, in the vicinity of Hayman Rd and Tekapo Canal Rd.
In March 2015, a woman who was one of two tourists in a car died, when the car went over a cliff and rolled several times before landing half-submerged in Lake Pukaki near the intersection of Hayman Rd and Braemar Mount Cook Station Rd.
The fatal crash raised concerns about inexperienced drivers using remote rural roads and prompted calls for better signage to deter tourists from using challenging, unsealed roads to reach attractions.
South Canterbury Automobile Association district chairman Roger Carter was pleased the stopping area was being installed.
"I think it is a great idea, I really do, and AA is right behind it."
He said southbound travellers would often stop at the end of the road "literally" for a photo opportunity, which was a safety hazard for all motorists.
"I think people come around the corner and get blown away by the view, I seriously think that is what's happening."
He had no doubt the area would be well used.
Mid-South Canterbury area commander Inspector Dave Gaskins said there had been fatal crashes in the past on the stretch of road, with one of the big issues being vehicles parking on the south side of the road.
"People park up as it is the first fantastic view you have of Mt Cook and Lake Pukaki."
Gaskin said it was a great idea but was concerned that south bound motorists would still have to cross the road to enter the area.
The area was expected to be completed by December, and was expected to cost about $150,000.