Rimutaka MP demands answers on SH2 black spot

MP Chris Hipkins is demanding answers from transport authorities after seven more people were hurt at a notorious Upper Hutt black spot.

Four people remain in hospital after a head-on crash involving seven people at the Whakatiki St turn-off along the River Rd section of SH2 in Upper Hutt on Saturday.

A police spokeswoman said two people were in stable conditions in Wellington Hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) on Monday, another is in Hutt Hospital’s ICU in a stable condition, and one is in Hutt Hospital’s general ward. Two people have been discharged while one wasn’t admitted following the head-on collision between two cars on Saturday. The initial injuries ranged from moderate to critical.

The Police Serious Crash Unit is investigating the cause of the crash.

Rimutaka Labour MP Chris Hipkins demanded urgent action to fix the intersection in a letter addressed to NZTA chief executive Fergus Gammie.

“I drive this road everyday. I know just how dangerous it can be. The crash over the weekend is just the latest of many. It is not a question of if another life will be taken by this intersection, it is a matter of when.

“The very welcome upgrade of the intersection between SH2 and the Haywards Hill can only increase the volume of traffic travelling north on SH2.

“Safety improvements over the past six to seven years, such as the closure of the SH2 and Moonshine Rd intersection and the installation of a wire rope barrier have actually increased the speed of many cars travelling through the area.”

The crash prompted Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy to condemn a lack of government action to fix the notorious stretch of highway – a black spot he described as a “death trap”.

The crash happened close to where a grandmother was killed when the car she was in attempted a right turn from Whakatiki St onto the highway but collided with another vehicle in April.

The road design was unable to cope with the modern traffic demands of a busy highway.

“Getting on and off; you take your life in your hands.”

There were four serious crashes, five minor crashes and 14 non-injury crashes at the intersection between 2008 and 2012.

NZ Transport Agency Wellington highway manager Neil Walker said the number and severity of crashes had dropped since a temporary speed reduction from 100 kmph to 80 kmph, southbound, was introduced about two years ago.

“We undertake a review following every major incident and will also consider the serious crash investigation report as part of improving safety at this intersection.”

The Agency is investigating the entire section of SH2 between Ngauranga and Upper Hutt [at] Te Marua including looking at options for the Whakatiki turnoff, to be completed by the end of the year.

“Funding would need to be confirmed before moving to detailed design mid to late next year and construction of the safety improvements would be expected to start during summer 2017-2018.”

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