Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst is demanding answers over the safety of State Highway 5 as the number of fatal crashes continues to rise.
Eight people have died on the Napier-Taupo Road in the last 12 months. The fatalities have all occurred at notoriously dangerous spots – Rangitaiki, Te Haroto and Te Pohue. The latter two areas sit within the Hastings district.
Since 2014, there have been more than 250 crashes reported on SH5 between Eskdale and Tarawera alone - ranging from the most serious causing fatalities to non-injury ones. Most of those crashes have been caused by drivers losing control on bends and head-on collisions.
Mrs Hazlehurst says enough is enough and the community are fed up that there is no action being taken to improve the safety of the road.
“I am getting multiple calls a day from concerned residents and community members who are extremely frustrated and scared - they don’t know what else to do other than call the mayor.
“I have spoken to the chair of the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and our regional NZTA representatives, but nothing has changed.
“Doing nothing about State Highway 5 is no longer an option - our community needs to be heard.”
Business owner Dan Gale lives and works on SH5 and says he is appalled at the condition of the road.
“The road is at its worse from Eskdale to the summit. In parts the entire north-bound lanes' surface is breaking up – it is riddled with pot holes. A lot of the damage is on corners with no signs warning of the damage to the road, so I'm not surprised people are being caught out.
“It irks me that the government is spending millions of dollars installing wire rope barriers on straight pieces of highway, when they can't even get the basics of having a good quality road surface on this State Highway right.
“I hope they take action soon and repair it to a decent standard so we stop hearing the emergency services go past so often.”
It is understood that a programme business case for the route was included in the last Hawke’s Bay Regional Land Transport Plan to commence in 2020-21, but was not included for funding in the National Land Transport Programme.
The highway carries about 3,000 vehicles a day, of which 15 per cent are heavy vehicles, including logging trucks.
Mrs Hazlehurst says having no budget to improve SH5 is just not good enough.
“The government must invest more into the maintenance and safety improvements for this major highway so we can reduce the death and injury toll.”
Image: A heat map shows the serious/fatal crashes that have occurred on SH5.
7 July 2020
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