The NZ Transport Agency says a new lane layout will improve safety for all road users on a busy section of State Highway 2 at the northern end of Masterton.
The two lanes in the northbound direction between Chapel Street and Te Ore Ore Road (passing over the Waipoua River bridge) will be reduced to one lane, improving safety at the zebra crossing and allowing more space for cyclists.
The second lane will be retained after the crossing to cater for vehicles turning right into Te Ore Ore Road.
The zebra crossing is median divided, allowing pedestrians to wait in the central median while crossing State Highway 2. The southbound approach is a single lane and this new northbound layout will mirror this safer design.
Since 2006 there have been eight reported crashes related to the zebra crossing. Of these, two have involved pedestrians being struck, resulting in one serious injury and one minor injury.
These crashes occurred on the northbound approach to the crossing, when a vehicle at the crossing waiting in one lane obscures visibility between the driver of vehicles in the other lane and the pedestrian on the crossing.
There have also been six reported near-crashes, from vehicles stopping for pedestrians on the crossings. Of these, two resulted in minor injuries.
Regional Transport Systems Manager Mark Owen says the Transport Agency has been working with Masterton District Council to review options for the road layout.
“The zebra crossing is critical for providing safe connections, especially for vulnerable pedestrians including older people, young children and people with disabilities,” Mr Owen says.
“A key driver for investigating the lane layout was to take the opportunity when this section was due to be resurfaced, to improve the safety for all road users along this section of Opaki Road.
“While the highway is under Transport Agency control, we have been keen to work closely with the council to understand the local community needs and the impact on the wider transport network.
“The new lane layout will also help formalise the lane layout for traffic at the Te Ore Ore Road intersection when exiting right onto State Highway 2, while also allowing extra space for cyclists. We will monitor the new layout to ensure that it delivers the improvements to safety and efficiency that we expect it to.”
Masterton District Council Chief Executive Kath Ross says, "Council supports making Masterton's roads safer and appreciates the work the Transport Agency has done to look at all the options that would improve safety at this spot."
Wairarapa Road Safety Council manager Bruce Pauling says he fully supports the new layout as it is a “significant safety improvement, especially for vulnerable road users”.
Weather permitting, work on the new lane layout will start on Wednesday 3 April with resurfacing of the northbound traffic from the northern end of the Chapel Street roundabout to just past Te Ore Ore Road, followed by line-marking overnight on Thursday 4 April.
The work had initially been scheduled for December last year but was postponed due to weather.
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