Petition calls goes to community board

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Karl Haywood took his call for a roading change to the Methven Community Board meeting in Methven this week, hoping to get traction to improve the corner at State Highway 77 and Arundel Rakaia Gorge Road.

It was the site of a double fatality last month.

Mr Haywood was one of the first on the scene.

Council representative and road safety committee chair Liz McMillan said the road where the accident had occurred was on the State Highway, which came under the control of the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA).

She had also received a letter of concern from another couple in the district on the issue, which she had forwarded to NZTA.

But she said the issue needed to be “a joint thing between council and NZTA”.

“And Mt Hutt ski field,” said mayor Donna Favel, also at the meeting.

Mrs Favel, who is advocate for council at the Regional Road Transport Committee, was interested in all the communication around the issue, and Mr Haywood’s petition at change.org (called ‘change to the intersection of sh72 & 77’).

Because “the other conversation I’m having around the regional transport table is…to try to give 72 back to NZTA. They all seem to be intertwined,” she said.

There was discussion around the area with trees blocking any clear vision and creating icy conditions and getting temporary flashing lights set up.

Also mentioned was the roading realignment done on Thompsons Track where accidents still happened, albeit into the kerb, which showed realignment was not the cure but it “was a starting point”, said Methven community board member Ron Smith.

The corner, along Arundel Rakaia Gorge Road, which is commonly known as Route 72 or the Inland Scenic Route, was the site of the accident on June 4 where Darrel and Maria Blair, of Ashburton, lost their lives and a truck driver was injured.

The livestock on board were also killed or injured as a result of the crash.

Mr Haywood wants authorities to do work on the corner at highway 77 and 72 (or Arundel Rakaia Gorge Road) to “create awareness and improve the junction”.

“The junction is a key part of the route that 100 percent of the people use to get to the ski field, so it is a bit of a different junction to the others that cross highway 72,” he said, during extraordinary business.

Mr Haywood had requested figures from Mt Hutt management, but had not received an answer.

“I know there has been funding released of an upgrade to the junctions along the road but we feel that improvement in signage would be good, but realignment or some significant work invested (would be better).”

His online petition has almost 290 signatures of support.

He is also supported by people living in the area, as near misses were a regular occurrence with at least one or two serious accidents every year.

There was also an increase in volume of traffic, although exact figures were unknown.

“We just want to see some change as a result of those people who lost their lives,” he said.