The completion of a $5.2 million project to make State Highway 2 on River Road safer for motorists has been commemorated today.
NZTA Wellington Operations Manager Mark Owen joined Regional Director Jenny Chetwynd, Minister of Transport Hon Steven Joyce, and Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy in a ceremony marking the substantial completion of the SH2 moonshine to Silverstream safety improvements, which began last year.
They were joined by Malcolm and Sharlene Barnett from Taupo. Their daughter Krystal Bennett (18) was killed in a head-on collision on River Road in 2005. The same crash also claimed the life of a young boy, Kahn Edwards (12., At today’s ceremony Krystal's parents reinstated her white cross at the roadside.
In the five year period before this project began there were seven head-on crashes on this stretch of road, with two tragically resulting in fatalities. Mr Owen said these improvements would help to make head-on crashes on this stretch of the road a thing of the past.
“A key part of this $5.2 million project is the installation of a wire rope median barrier, which will prevent head-on crashes such as those that have tragically claimed lives on this section of highway.
“We want to make roads more forgiving to prevent the loss of life and limb in the event of driver error, and this project will help to achieve that and improve safety for the thousands of motorists who use it every day.
“It’s important to remember that this safety project was preceded by tragedy. Malcolm and Sharlene Barnett have been tireless advocates for making our highways safer, and we are very grateful for the awareness they have raised following their own personal tragedy.
“We’d also like to thank motorists for their patience and understanding over the last year while construction was underway. It’s always challenging to undertake major roadworks on a busy highway and ensuring workers are protected without causing major disruption to motorists. “
As well as the new wire rope barrier, the project included widening the road to provide 2.5metre shoulders either side of the carriageway and a three metre median strip. The wider shoulders allow a vehicle to stop clear of other traffic, and allows for more room for driver error, helping to make the road safer for everyone. It will also improve safety for cyclists by giving them more room. The wider median strip also provides adequate deflection space if the barrier is hit so that other motorists aren’t endangered. This width also provides better clearance to the barrier for drivers, which reduces the chance of the barrier being hit.
Guardrails have been installed on the hillside where the road embankment slope is particularly steep, and to prevent motorists crashing into culvert headwalls and a new concrete drain which runs along the toe of the hillside north of the entrance to the St Pat’s Forestry block.
Mr Owen also thanked Fulton Hogan, who constructed the project, and Opus International Consultants, who managed the work on the NZTA’s behalf.