Karāpiro safety work starts 

The speed limit has been cut to 80kph north of Hickey Rd, pictured, to south of Karāpiro Rd 

The national transport agency has started making road safety changes it promised in a letter to Karāpiro School, reported by The News last week.

The highway through Karāpiro has been the acene of several fatal crashes this year and Taupō MP Louise Upston says while the work announced by Waka Kotahi is welcome, it should have been done earlier.

David Speirs, Waka Kotahi’s director of regional relationships for Waikato and Bay of Plenty, said the community had been “crying out for safety improvements on this stretch of highway, and we are delivering”.

“While our mahi on the longer term 16km expressway is progressing, and we have been working on more permanent safety improvements on the current SH1, there are things we can do right now to save lives. Probably the most influential will be the temporary reduction of the speed limit to 80kph from 100kph from north of Hickey Road to south of the Karāpiro Road-SH1 intersection.”

Louise Upston – “it’s too little, too late”. 

That move in particular has been greeted by the school.

Waka Kotahi will also erect ‘high crash area’ signs north of Hickey Road and south of Karāpiro Road, and electronic warning signs.

It will add and improve rumble strips, hit sticks and edge marker posts and install wide painted median strips between the end of the expressway and Fergusson Gully Road.

The temporary speed restriction will remain in place until permanent safety infrastructure – flexible median barriers – are added. More than 4km of flexible median barriers have already been installed between Cambridge and Piarere.

Waka Kotahi says the barrier south of Fergusson Gully Road has been hit 40 times already any of those incidents had the potential to be a head-on crash.

An additional flexible median barrier will be installed just south of Maungatautari Road before Christmas, the road resurfaced, and a short southbound passing lane removed.

By early next year there will 7.7km of flexible median barriers between Fergusson Gully Road to near the intersection with SH29 at Piarere.

Upston called it too little, too late.

“So far there have been three deaths and six serious injuries on this stretch of road this year. In the previous five years there were six deaths and 26 serious injuries,” she said.

“While it is pleasing to see some change coming, this work is urgent. Two years is not fast enough.”

National is still fuming over the government’s decision to stall the extension of the Waikato Expressway to Piarere.

Upston said the move was false economy and would have been completed in 2024.

“On average, well over 18,000 vehicles travel that section of road every day. This highway is a vital transport link for the region and the North Island. Upgrading it must be made a priority and it’s not funded this decade under Labour.”

Details of the latest Waka Kotahi work will be discussed at an information day at the Cambridge Town Hall on November 17.

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