Waka Kotahi - NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is the agency that is responsible for the country's state highways.
In last week's Hawke's Bay Today there was a Talking Point written by Waka Kotahi's Emma Speight, who is director of regional relationships.
My response is that Hawke's Bay has three major arterial routes: They are all critical to the lifeblood and economics of our entire region:
* State Highway 2 from Manawatū to Hawke's Bay as we all know is an absolute disaster.
* The continuation of State Highway 2 through to Wairoa. We all know how neglected that stretch of road has been for decades. Devil's Elbow etc.
* State Highway 5 through to Taupō, the focus of this talking point.
Not to mention State Highway 50A, the two-lane motorway from Pakipaki to Napier with cheese cutters. It was Waka Kotahi that prevented this from being four lanes and look at the daily hold-ups we all now incur through its complete lack of foresight and future-proofing.
From my point of view NZTA is a government agency with minimal credibility as far as Hawke's Bay is concerned. One only has to travel on the western side of the North Island and travel from Palmerston North to New Plymouth to notice the difference.
Passing lanes whenever required, wider roads with first-rate seal, well-maintained and appropriate signage, marker posts, road makings, rumble strips, to name just a few. By comparison Hawke's Bay has missed out big time for years and there is no time like now to start putting it right.
Back to State Highway 5 (Napier to Taupō). No one likes to hear or read about another death on our roads but starting by reducing speed will create even greater frustration and prove to be just another revenue gathering exercise.
This road needs some major maintenance and realignment. $2.5 million doesn't cut the mustard. $25m a year would just be a starting point to make up for decades of neglect.
To compare. Transmission Gully north of Wellington has just announced a $500m overrun in expenditure - another Waka Kotahi project. Now $1.25 billion.
Two weeks ago council listened to and watched a presentation from Waka Kotahi via a Zoom call.
I can assure you the steam was rising within the chambers as it was more than obvious that it had made up its mind and it was not prepared to listen.
Sometimes called "the head in the sand" approach.
We asked questions and requested data - minimal answers have been provided.
a) How many logging truck and trailer units use this highway on a daily basis and what consideration do you place on heavy vehicle traffic as far as setting speed limits and road conditions are concerned?
b) Why do you think the average speed is just over 80km/h?
c) Over the past five years how much has the traffic on that road increased?
d) Is there any particular timeframe when the majority of crashes occur?
e) Would you consider just restricting speed in the high-risk zones instead of the entire stretch of road?
f) What other safety issues have been assessed apart from a reduction in speed from 100km/h to 80km/h? Where is that technical data available?
g) Why are you using reducing speed as the first safety mechanism as against actually improving the road?
When you drive on a state highway and you see grass on the side roads un-mown, trees untrimmed, fallen rocks, a continuous stream of rubbish littering both sides, potholes that remain un-repaired, just ask yourself: is this the way that Waka Kotahi NZTA care for us and the environment that we drive along.
Where to from here: visit https://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/hawkes-bay-speed-review/
Make certain you have your say before it closes on May 9.
It is money we need spent on our state highways not a reduction in speed. Less than 1 per cent don't abide by the road rules so don't penalise the 99 per cent of drivers who drive responsibly.
Finally, these are all my own personal observations and views and I doubt that Waka Kotahi will change anything. Its challenge is to prove me wrong.
Malcolm Dixon is a Hastings district councillor