The son of a Rotorua woman who died after a crash at the State Highway 30-Whakatāne turnoff is welcoming proposed changes to the intersection.

The NZ Transport Agency is seeking feedback on potential safety improvements along State Highway 5, State Highway 30, and State Highway 33 around Rotorua, including widening road shoulders, putting in barriers, improving signs and speed limits, and a potential roundabout where highways 30 and 33 meet.

Lake Rotoma resident Ngaire Woods died in Rotorua Hospital, aged 80, on the evening of May 22.

That morning she was driving in convoy to visit her daughter in Tauranga when she was critically injured in a two-car crash at the State Highway 30/33 corner.

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Her son, Mike Woods, told the Rotorua Daily Post this week he was "very impressed" decision makers were "taking the bull by the horns" to improve road safety at the site.

He said it was "at least some silver lining".

"It makes me feel that something good is actually coming out of something bad ... Even if it just prevents one fatal in years to come then it's worth it."

Emergency services at the scene of the crash on May 22 at the intersection of SH30/33. Photo/File
Emergency services at the scene of the crash on May 22 at the intersection of SH30/33. Photo/File

Woods said a fatal crash "leaves everybody just wondering why".

He said he had been through the intersection many times in his life but he never "thought hard" about it until the day his mother died.

Since then, he had been "trying to figure out what went on in mum's head".

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"There are definitely times of the day when you are looking straight into the sun and that is a very high-speed area, so I think it is critical something is done."

Emergency services work at the scene of the two-car crash at the SH30/33 corner on May 22. Photo/File
Emergency services work at the scene of the two-car crash at the SH30/33 corner on May 22. Photo/File

Woods said the proposed roundabout was a "terrific idea".

"I thought about barriers, I thought about lights, but I think a roundabout is really the best solution because it does keep the traffic flowing but brings it down to a speed that is manageable. If there are accidents, there will only be bruised fenders rather than bruised bones."

In 2016 the Government announced a $600m nationwide road safety programme to help bring down the road toll.

The NZTA is now improving 1500km of state highway.

The Rotorua Safe Roads projects at State Highway 5 Tarukenga to Ngongotahā, State Highway 30 from the airport to the State Highway 30/33 intersection, and State Highway 30/33 intersection to Paengaroa are among more than 90 high-risk sites on rural state highways being improved in the programme across 14 regions.

NZTA Safe Roads Alliance director Tony Fisher said the agency had sought input at the outset of each Rotorua project and held community drop-in sessions.

"The July newsletter is providing people the chance to read where each project is at and see how they can share their thoughts on the safety improvements."

He said most of the feedback had been supportive so far.

"Some suggestions for details need further investigation. For the State Highway 30/33 intersection, the concept of a roundabout has had reasonably consistent support."

Possible changes

- SH5 Tarukenga to Ngongotahā with a shortened Hamilton bound passing lane so it ends before the narrow bridge near Dalbeth and Tarukenga Rd, a widened centreline, a flexible median barrier along the passing lane to reduce the risk of head-on collisions, a wide, sealed road shoulder and barriers at high-risk locations.

- SH30 Airport to the SH30/33 intersection with a roundabout where the highways meet, median safety barrier along the route, extended 80km/h area and widened, sealed road shoulder and barriers at high-risk locations.

Changes under way

- SH30/33 intersection to Paengaroa with a widened centreline, flexible roadside safety barriers at high-risk locations, widened and sealed road shoulder, new signs added, line marking, rumble strips, and a potential passing lane.

How to submit your thoughts

Contact community engagement manager Justin Rae on 021 390 732, via email justin.rae@saferoads.co.nz and nzta.govt.nz/saferoads