With nearly 5km of new guardrails now in place on the Rimutaka Hill Road and Muldoon’s Corner consigned to history, the NZ Transport Agency says that years of hard slog and an investment of more than $17 million overall is making a real difference to driver safety.
"We've been working since 2009 to improve the safety of this difficult road,” says Wellington state highways manager Rod James. “By May 2012 we had dealt to Muldoon's Corner and installed an initial 1km of safety barriers. Now, we’ve just finished installing another 3.6km of guardrails and resurfaced parts of the road to make it safer and more skid-resistant.”
Mr James says that while working on this road hasn’t always been easy, it’s making a real difference to helping make journeys safer in the region.
“Rimutaka Hill Road is a challenging but crucial lifeline between Wellington and the Wairarapa. Along with the difficult nature of the road itself, the area’s climate can be severe, with heavy rainfall, high winds, ice and snow during the winter months and very changeable weather patterns during the summer.
"By easing some of the sharp corners, installing guardrails and improving visibility and the surface of the road itself, we’ve been able to give motorists safer journeys on a very complex stretch of road. We thank drivers for their patience and understanding throughout this project and hope that our work will continue to make a difference in their safety whenever they drive over the Rimutakas.”
While the Transport Agency says it is still seeing accidents in this area, the new guardrails are helping to reduce the severity of crashes. Reducing injuries is just as important as reducing numbers of crashes, as it means a much lower impact on everyone involved. The Transport Agency is also encouraged to see that in March, usually the month with the highest number of motorbike crashes, there was only one minor motorcycle injury on the hill. This is a great result when compared with an average of 10 injury-related crashes in March of previous years.
The Transport Agency is pleased to have achieved these results, although Mr James says that there is still more to do.
“Road crashes have a huge effect on lives and livelihoods. New Zealanders, their families and their communities pay a terrible price for the loss of life and the debilitating consequences of serious injuries from road crashes. The Transport Agency will continue to work towards safer roads and roadsides and encourage safer vehicles, safer speeds, and safer driving across New Zealand.
“Drivers also play a key part in bringing down our road toll. The Rimutaka Hill Road is still a challenging road to drive on—particularly in winter, when it only takes a little bit of snow or ice to make things treacherous. We urge everyone driving on this road to take care, always wear your seat belt, drive to the conditions and be courteous to other road users,” says Mr James.
Check the weather and road conditions before you leave by calling 0800 4 HIGHWAYS, visit www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link), check the live traffic cameras at www.nzta.govt.nz(external link), sign up to email alerts at www.onthemove.govt.nz(external link), visit @NZTAWgtn or listen to your local radio station while you’re on the road.
For more information on safe winter driving, please visit www.nzta.govt.nz(external link)