Crash at Rapanui Rd angers councillor

By, John Maslin, Anne-Marie Emerson

A Wanganui district councillor is wondering how many more fatal or serious accidents will have to happen at a notorious intersection before the New Zealand Transport Agency takes notice.

Councillor Ray Stevens made his comments after helping clean up in the aftermath of yet another collision at the intersection of SH3 and Rapanui Rd, directly opposite his service station.

A fully laden stock truck, heading north toward New Plymouth, collided with a Toyota ute which had driven out of Rapanui Rd.

Neither driver was injured but Mr Stevens said it was only a matter of time before another fatality occurred.

He said since the intersection was modified 12 years ago there had been four fatalities, a large number of serious injury accidents and "innumerable" non-injury accidents.

As chairman of the council's infrastructure and property committee, he had been trying for at least eight months to get NZTA to take an interest in the intersection, "but they've done diddly squat".

"The criteria to get funding to make improvements is based on the number of death, injury and non-injury accidents yet we've had a major number of them here.

"Surely these figures suggest something needs to be done, and urgently," Mr Stevens said.

He said he had raised the matter with his council's engineers last year, but there had been no response from NZTA.

"It's bloody disappointing. All I'm asking for is an engineering review to make the intersection safer for locals and other road users.

"Why are people dying, why are people getting injured and why are these accidents still happening? It costs little or nothing to get an NZTA engineer to have a look here," Mr Stevens said.

NZTA state highways manager David McGonigal said there had been significant safety improvements at the intersection and while no more were planned, NZTA was looking at a range of safety measures for SH3 extending towards Blueskin Rd.

"This may include removing roadside hazards, and providing a wider centreline or wider shoulders to allow more margin for error if a driver makes a mistake. We are also looking into managing speeds along the highway, and this in particular has the potential to improve safety for drivers using the Rapanui Rd intersection," Mr McGonigal said.

The timing of improvements would depend on funding and prioritisation, he said.

Mr McGonigal said the intersection had been identified as a low-medium risk in the high-risk intersections guide. He noted there were turning bays for Rapanui Rd and Mr Stevens' petrol station.

"However, the very nature of intersections mean there will always be an element of risk.

"A safe transport system increasingly free of trauma depends on a number of factors - safe roads, safe vehicles, safe speeds and safe drivers.

"It's particularly important that motorists on Rapanui Rd ensure they exercise caution when turning, and that motorists on the highway remain alert and watch their speeds," Mr McGonigal said.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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