The closure of an access road today has a Napier school pleading for a safer solution, before a serious crash occurs as they transport "vulnerable" students.
The Poraiti Hohepa Special School caters for those with special requirements for their care and education. For years, it has transported students from their Fryer Rd site via an unusual route through Wharerangi Cemetery.
The main route involves cars going through a junction of Fryer and Puketitiri Rds. Located just past the brow of a hill, the school's slow vans turning into Fryer Rd are often unseen by oncoming traffic.
"The local traffic goes [through the cemetery] mainly for safety reasons because the junction of Fryer Rd and Puketitiri Rd is extremely hazardous," Hohepa business partnership and marketing manager Neil Kirton said.
However, Napier City Council has said it will close public access through the cemetery from today - a move which Hohepa fears could have significant consequences.
"It's going to happen, someone will crash straight into a van full of kids," Mr Kirton said, questioning what council would do to ensure the Puketitiri Rd route was safe.
"What steps have [they] put in place to avert disaster for a vulnerable population. They haven't resolved what clearly is a major roading fault which creates a real hazard for a vulnerable group of people.
"It can be done. We're saying until you resolve the more acute safety issue, then you should let us transit through the cemetery."
In response, yesterday council CE Wayne Jack said an attempt was made to close the cemetery access in mid-2017 after staff noticed increasing non-cemetery traffic, and visitors noted "impacts to safety and amenity".
"Council officers determined that restricting access was the best course of action in the interests of protecting the safety of those using the cemetery as well as those currently using it as a through route," he said.
In response to Fryer Rd residents' concerns, council had widened Puketitiri Rd, and improved road markings to provide a right-turn bay before traffic access through the cemetery was restricted, he said.
They would be lowering the speed limit to 80km/h on Puketitiri Rd between Church Rd and Poraiti Rd. This was temporary until the permanent limit was reviewed later this year.
"Taking into account all of the above, it is now appropriate to proceed with the closing of the cemetery access and maintain amenity and safety in this important public area."