A Whangarei mechanic who lives along a road extensively used by logging trucks wants the road to be widened to prevent crashes and fatalities. And he wants its intersection with State Highway 1 worked on now before the route is designated a state highway this year.
As Doug Proctor raised his concerns about the narrow Loop Rd in the Mangakahia/Otaika Valley route yesterday, a trailer unit rolled and spilled a load of logs but luckily there was no other traffic and no one was injured.
The fully laden truck and trailer unit was travelling along Otaika Valley Rd heading towards State Highway 1 when the trailer went out of control and rolled on a bend about 2.30pm yesterday. Police say speed is likely to be a factor.
Logs spilled across the road, but the truck unit remained upright. Senior Constable John Van Pomeren from the police's Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit said the trailer's tyres peeled off the rims and the logs came off.
The truck and trailer would be inspected to help determine the cause of the crash. The incident happened on the same corner where a logging truck driver was killed when logs from another truck came off the trailer and crashed into the cab of his truck in 2007. There have been a number of other logging truck crashes on the road since.
Yesterday's crash followed a spate of incidents in Northland lately that involved logging trucks. Last month, a logging truck and trailer unit that rolled totally blocked State Highway 1 in the Far North. Earlier this month, a large pine log spotted wedged under a safety barrier on the northern side of Piano Hill was most likely to have come from a logging truck.
Mr Proctor said the Mangakahia/Otaika Valley was a nightmare for motorists, especially during morning peak traffic when cars were forced to queue behind logging trucks trying to turn into SH1.
The route will become State Highway 15 from July 1, but he said Whangarei District Council should take action now rather than pass the buck to the New Zealand Transport Agency.
"The logging trucks occupy most of the road and cars that follow behind cannot squeeze down the side because there's no space.
"We've been complaining about the intersection with the [Whangarei District] council for ages but nothing's been done about it," he said.
He said the intersection of Loop Rd and SH1 needed to be revisited. Mr Proctor said some cars have to backtrack and go around and into Portland before heading to Whangarei as the intersection gets congested with logging trucks.
Council roading manager Jeff Devine said the NZTA and the council were very much aware of the issues around the intersection. NZTA, he said, was investigating an upgrade of SH1 called the "Loop Rd to Smeatons Hill Safety Improvements".
"With the likelihood that these two major projects may go quite some way to improving this area we are not planning independent work on the intersection right now," Mr Devine said.
Northland road policing Senior Sergeant Ian Row said an increase in logging trucks on the region's roads in future would increase the risk as would a rise in the volume of any types of vehicles.
In February 2014, a logging truck and a car collided on Loop Rd at the intersection with Otaika Valley Rd and just over a month earlier, a woman driver had her neck broken in two places after her car and a logging truck collided head-on.
An increase in logging is expected to see 195 truckloads per day, or one truck every three minutes on average, going down Otaika Valley Rd/Mangakahia Rd.