Black spot spurs MP into action

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by Claire Allison

Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon is taking up the fight to make the crash black spot intersection of State Highways 1 and 79 safer.

Following meetings with Rangitata residents, Mr Falloon has asked the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) for a reduced speed limit, road-widening and better signs.

“Many of the residents I have spoken to have seen first-hand the aftermath of serious accidents involving both local and international drivers. They fear that the next crash at the intersection will be fatal.

“On my visits pieces of vehicles were still present on the roadside from some of the crashes. Standing near the intersection for 10 minutes I saw more than a dozen vehicles turning left out of State Highway 79 into State Highway 1 without stopping or pausing.”

Mr Falloon said he, and residents, did not believe temporary lit signs on either side of the intersection recommending people decrease their speed had worked.

“They fear that the next crash at the intersection will be fatal.

“All of the residents who I have spoken to are seeking a permanent reduction to the speed limit through Rangitata, rather than NZTA’s approach of making a suggestion.”

He said the Oasis Tearooms had launched a petition seeking a permanent cut to the speed limit to 70kmh, and residents wanted other work to be done to make the intersection safer for motorists and residents.

“Suggesting that people reduce their speed has not proved satisfactory. There is no deterrent for continuing to travel through Rangitata at high speed. A reduction in the speed limit to 80kmh would provide that deterrent, and bring Rangitata into line with Orari, another intersection heavily used by southbound tourists and other road users.”

Mr Falloon said an alternative would be to install a variable speed limit sign, as at the Burnham intersection, which recognised when motorists were on side roads waiting to turn in.

He has also proposed widening the road to the immediate north of the intersection, allowing for a merging lane of left-turning traffic from SH79 into SH1.

Mr Falloon said the landowners immediately opposite the intersection had said they would be happy for the NZTA to acquire part of their land for this purpose.

Further improvements could be made for southbound traffic turning into SH79 by extending the length of the right-turning lane.

He is also suggesting better signs giving more warning of the intersection.

“At present there are three signs noting the upcoming intersection for motorists travelling to Geraldine, Mt Cook and other locations.

However the signs are relatively small, and in the case of two of them, are at the intersection itself.

“Residents and I have regularly witnessed motorists slamming on their brakes and executing dangerous turns into SH79 when travelling south.”