Residents speak out on road plan

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Photo: A number of people offered feedback on NZTA's proposed measures to improve safety on the Selwyn to Ashburton stretch of State Highway 1.

By Mick Jensen

NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has received plenty of feedback and a number of negative comments on some of the possible safety measures it is proposing to introduce to reduce death and serious injury crashes on the Selwyn to Ashburton stretch of State Highway 1 (SH1).

The public aired its concerns and suggestions at a consultation meeting in Ashburton on Friday.

Comments focused mainly on the possible introduction of safety barriers down the middle of the road to stop head-on crashes, on rumble strips to give drivers a wake-up call, on intersection improvements and the widening of the centreline in places to allow more space between traffic travelling in opposite directions.

A number of “post-it” note style comments were submitted to NZTA.

Some suggested money could be better spent on a four-lane highway between Christchurch and Ashburton.

Others said the current highway was too narrow for safety barriers and that they would create impatient drivers.

The rural community would have its access to and from town restricted if some intersections were closed and productivity would be reduced accordingly, said others.

Another opinion urged NZTA to focus on other upgrades, such as replacing the Rakaia Bridge.

Some people indicated they believed rumble strips were better off down the middle of the road rather than on the sides, while a few applauded the range of safety measures, saying they were overdue.

Thirteen people were killed and 49 seriously injured on the road from Selwyn and Ashburton between 2007 and 2016.

Transport Agency system manager Pete Connors said community drop-in days had been held in Ashburton, Dunsandel and Rakaia to encourage feedback and to look at ways to make SH1 between the Selwyn River and Ashburton safer for everyone.

Some 1500km of high-risk roading across the country was in the spotlight and NZTA wanted to make it all safer.

He said people had told him that the Selwyn to Ashburton road was too narrow for safety barriers and that barriers would slow traffic down.

Others had suggested more passing lanes, a change of speed management over the likes of the Rakaia Bridge and rail overbridge, and also a four-lane highway.

He said a four lane highway was not on the programme and a long way away.

“We’ll go away now, tweak what we have presented and then provide feedback from the consultation meetings.

“After that, it’s a matter of compiling a business case and applying for the funding we need to carry out the improvements.”

Mr Connors said conversations with key stakeholders would continue for many months.