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Closure of median barrier at Horokiwi to prevent high crash
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The NZ Transport Agency intends to close the gap in the median barrier at Horokiwi to improve road safety on the busy State Highway 2 after recording 69 crashes at the intersection in nearly nine years.

The NZ Transport Agency intends to close the gap in the median barrier at Horokiwi to improve road safety on the busy State Highway 2 after recording 69 crashes at the intersection in nearly nine years.

“The safety of road users is of paramount importance to us and we do not believe we can leave the gap open any longer,” Transport Agency Wellington Regional Director Deborah Hume said.

Sixty-nine crashes, four of them serious, were recorded at or near Horokiwi between January 2000 and August 2008. Thirty of the crashes were attributable to the gap in the median barrier, including two serious injury accidents and nine with minor injuries.

The closure will prevent right turns into the suburb containing about 80 households and the Horokiwi Quarries. Right turns out of the suburb have already been banned since 1999 following 17 crashes in six years.

The Transport Agency made the decision after considering the crash statistics and a July 2008 video survey of the intersection.
“Our decision is reinforced by the 2008 Coroner’s Report into a fatal crash at the Wairere Road-SH2 intersection which emphasised the need for us to identify and address serious deficiencies in road design, especially intersections with limited sight distances that increase the risk of accidents,” Dr Hume said.

“Horokiwi intersection is one of the worst crash black spots in the Wellington region. We believe it is too dangerous for vehicles to continue to cross in front of on-coming traffic in a 100 kilometre per hour speed area where the line of sight is limited by a bend in the road. North-bound motorists often brake suddenly to allow others to cross into Horokiwi Road causing traffic to come to a rapid halt behind them.

“We conducted a video survey last year that indicates that near misses and breakdown of the traffic flow are a daily occurrence at this spot.”

The July 2008 video survey revealed several safety issues. Some examples from 10 July 2008:

Two trucks turning right across the highways into Horokiwi at the same time, travelling side by side

A near collision between a right-turning car and a cyclist

Two examples where a north-bound vehicle skidded heavily to avoid running into the back of vehicles that had stopped to allow right-turning traffic through

Left-turning vehicles leaving Horokiwi forcing their way into small gaps in the traffic, forcing traffic to brake.

The survey shows about 760 vehicle movements into and out of Horokiwi per day. On 10 July 2008, 759 vehicles moved in and out of Horokiwi, including 239 making a right turn across the motorway into the suburb. Of the right turns, 103 were cars, 98 trucks and 38 truck and trailers.

The closure is part of an ongoing programme to improve the safety of intersections and traffic flow along State Highway 2 through the Hutt Valley which has a traffic count of 43,000 vehicles passing Horokiwi each day. It is expected work will begin on the closure later this year and will include realigning the median barrier to provide sufficient space to develop acceleration and deceleration lanes turning left into and out of the suburb. It will also include measures to improve the safety of cyclists through the intersection.

Vehicles that would usually turn right across the flow of traffic into Horokiwi will then be required to travel to the Ngauranga Gorge interchange and back. This will add, on average, five to 10 minutes of extra travel time at peak hours. Other travel options for Horokiwi drivers may be possible in the long term following completion of the Ngauranga Triangle Strategy Study which is considering a link from Grenada to Gracefield.

"We regret the inconvenience this will cause to those accessing Horokiwi. However, it is impracticable to build a flyover in this location. Traffic lights are also not feasible in this 100 kilometre per hour area where the north-bound sightline is restricted," Dr Hume said.

The Transport Agency is consulting with police, fire and ambulance services to keep them informed and ensure their current high standard of service to Horokiwi can continue.

Several organisations have written to the Transport Agency endorsing the closure and their comments are included below.

Inspector Peter Baird, Road Policing Manager, Wellington District:
“The police are in support of the proposal. This decision is based on the traffic crash data and trend analysis that shows this intersection is one of high risk for motorists travelling through and out of the intersection.”

Michael Dennehy, Secretary, Wellington Regional Road Transport Association:
“Traffic volumes along State Highway 2 have grown to the point where we consider it prudent that the gap in the median barrier at the intersection be permanently closed ... The increasing amount of residential development in Horokiwi Road has resulted in a corresponding increase in traffic coming and going ... a greater amount of side traffic is trying to cross an ever busier stretch of the Hutt Road, thus increasing the crash probability at the intersection beyond tolerable levels.”

John Christianson, Chairman, AA Wellington District Council:
“In conversation with various agency personnel over the last three years, we have been told that discussions are well underway for a proposal to close off the median opening at Horokiwi. We fully support this initiative.”

Debbie Player, mother of son Mark whose accident was one of the reasons for the earlier banning in 1999 of right turns out of Horokiwi:

”I am very relieved that, at long last, the dangerous intersection at Horokiwi is being fully resolved. The move will significantly improve safety for all road users, including my son who was involved in a serious crash involving a turning truck there in 1999. A small time delay for some is nothing compared to the safety of the majority.”

Mrs Player’s son Mark and his three passengers all received minor injuries and their car was a write-off when they were involved in a crash at Horokiwi intersection. Mark, using driving skills picked up in an Advanced Motoring Institute course, was prepared when he saw a truck and trailer unit turn right from the Hutt into Horokiwi Road in front of him and had slowed down. Hitting the second smaller truck full of gravel crossing to turn south (right from Horokiwi) in the shadow of the first truck was unavoidable. Mrs Player wrote to the Transport Agency (then Transit) seeking an immediate stop to right turning traffic out of Horokiwi.

Download background information and a map of the Horokiwi intersection median closure (PDF, 112 KB)

For more information please contact:

Andree Kai Fong
Communications adviser
Ph: (04) 894 5211
M: 027 672 5881
andree.kaifong@nzta.govt.nz

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