Kyra is the Rotorua Daily Post's police, emergency and court reporter.

'We are putting our lives at risk': Locals plead

Rotorua's Blair Hartley has had enough of the state of our roads. Photo/Stephen Parker
Rotorua's Blair Hartley has had enough of the state of our roads. Photo/Stephen Parker

Residents in Hamurana are calling for improvements to roads in the area because they believe someone will die if nothing is done.

Residents say they are writing to roading authorities.

Blair Hartley, 32, has recently returned to the area with his partner and two young children and is shocked at the state of the roads.

Mr Hartleygrew up on the northern side of Lake Rotorua in Hamurana, and in May he and his family were involved in a head-on smash.

He said the crash, which happened out of Rotorua, made him more road safety conscious and now he noticed dangers around Hamurana, mainly around the Tauranga Direct and Hamurana roads intersection.

"Several of the intersections are 'death traps' and accidents waiting to happen. In particular Hamurana Rd/Tauranga Direct Rd."

He said it was very rare to see anyone stop at the stop sign there.

"The Te Waerenga Rd/Jackson Rd/Tauranga Direct Rd section has poor design and terrible surface.

"And lastly, an intersection that is of particular danger is the Kaharoa Rd/Tauranga Direct Rd turn-off."

Mr Hartley is not alone in his concern. Joanne Wallace, committee member of the Kaharoa Community Association, said the association had been discussing the issue for several years and they had now decided to take action.

She said they were in the process of writing a letter to the New Zealand Transport Agency and whoever else appropriate about the state of the roads.

"Money needs to be spent on these roads, they are in a bad state. We are very concerned for safety reasons. The locals know the dangers, but it's about the commuters and tourists safety as well."

She said the main area of concern was the turn-off at Tauranga Direct Rd on to Kaharoa Rd when heading to Tauranga from Rotorua where there was no turning lane.

"There's a potential accident and probably a death that's going to happen. We are putting our lives at risk by driving there," she said.

Kaharoa School principal Warwick Moyle said he had at least two comments from different parents on the state of the roads in the area every week.

"I hear concern from a lot of parents and I am concerned myself. The roads are very narrow and we have few passing lanes.

"The concern for us is that lots of trucks use it now and it's our bus route ... because it's a state highway cars will drive past the stationary bus without slowing down when they are meant to slow down to 20km/h," he said.

New Zealand Transport Agency's Bay of Plenty Highways manager Niclas Johansson said they were aware of Mr Hartley's concerns.

He said when the Tauranga Direct Rd was sealed and became State Highway 36 it was extensively widened and realigned.

"The Transport Agency is investing in safety improvements on SH36, including the road being widened and a wire rope barrier installed at one site this year, and repairs will also be undertaken on SH36 in the upcoming construction season," he said.

Stavros Michael, Rotorua Lakes Council director of Transport and Waste Solutions, said they had received two formal complaints about State Highway 36 in the past month, one was Mr Hartley's.

He said his main concerns were about the intersections on State Highway 36 including the road geometry and road surface condition which were the responsibility of the transport agency.

"While the areas of concern for Mr Hartley are managed by New Zealand Transport Agency, council takes all road safety concerns very seriously.

"Each year council carries out road network programmes at a value of approximately $18 million," he said.

Rotorua officer in charge of road policing Senior Sergeant Nicky Riordan said the area Mr Hartley had highlighted was not considered a high crash area by police.

"On State Highway 36 there can be a lot of ice during the winter so we do get called out sometimes, but it certainly doesn't come up as an area that is prominent for crashes," she said.

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