Residents take action over Matakohe bridges

By Annette Lambly

Residents living in the vicinity of two controversial one-lane bridges on State Highway 12 near Matakohe are convinced the bridges are dangerous and will cost lives.

They want the bridges made into two lanes, or realigned.

On Saturday about 40 protesters marched the two kilometres between the bridges carrying placards highlighting their concerns. A petition, which to date has 1500 signatures, is circulating.

Local resident Dennise Brownlie says the bridges, the approaches and the 18 corners on the short stretch of road all pose problems for motorists - especially those unfamiliar with the road. She says the road is used by numerous heavy vehicles. Locals say there are many near misses, including a near head-on involving a school bus and a logging truck this year. They see it as a matter of when someone will die.

Sue Reyland, one of three injured in an accident on Andersons Bridge this year, feels the New Zealand Transport Authority is ignoring the dangers. NZTA's acting State Highways manager for Northland, Steve Mutton says signage on the approaches to the bridges has been upgraded, visibility improved by removing vegetation and the surface of Hardies Bridge recently resealed.

He said the agency funding criteria - the number of vehicles and the number of crashes - is low (five accidents reported in five years and 1750 vehicles daily). Replacement costs would be in the vicinity of $20 million.

Mrs Brownlie says locals intend to erect signs advising motorists concerned at the dangers to phone the NZTA 0800 number.

- Northern Advocate

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