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Work on life-saving barrier to begin

Wellington Regional Office

22 October 2004

Work on life-saving barrier to begin

Transit New Zealand is installing a 700-metre wire rope median barrier on part of the coastal section of State Highway 1, known as Centennial Highway.

Transit’s regional asset manager, Kevin Locke, said construction of the barrier would begin on Tuesday 26 October and take about six weeks to complete.

“Getting the barrier in as soon as possible is our priority, and we are working to get it in before Christmas,” said Mr Locke.

“Construction will be 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week. There will be delays to traffic during the installation of the barrier but we will keep these to a minimum.

“We are asking all road users in the area to obey the speed restrictions, to drive carefully through the work site and to be sensible about not rubbernecking – that can cause accidents too,” he said.

Otaki-based Road Services Limited has been contracted to install the barrier on the section of road that has been the site of three recent fatal crashes. The design and construction of the 700-metre section of barrier will cost $400,000.

Mr Locke said the median barrier could be dismantled quickly when required by Transit contractors and emergency services staff by unlocking the wires and pulling out the posts so the wire ropes can be driven over. Transit will train emergency services’ personnel to lower the wire ropes.

The wire rope barriers are strong and have proved their worth overseas in preventing both trucks and cars crossing into opposing traffic. A wire rope median barrier was installed a year ago on SH58 Haywards Hill following 12 head-on collisions, five of which resulted in fatalities. Since the installation there have been only minor accidents and no injury accidents.

Installation of the wire rope barrier to improve safety on Centennial Highway is supported by local emergency services.

Kapiti Mana area commander, Inspector John Spence said the New Zealand Police support the installation of the wire rope barrier after the success of the median barrier on SH58 Haywards Hill in preventing head-on crashes.

“Head-on collisions are the worst accidents because they so often result in death or serious injury. The median barrier will separate traffic from oncoming vehicles, minimising the risk of head-on crashes,” he said.

Marty Smyth, general manager ambulance service, Wellington Free Ambulance also supports the installation of the barrier.

“In my experience, most accidents on the Coast Road are caused by vehicles crossing the centreline,” he said. “Median barriers definitely save lives.”

Ray Kennedy, assistant regional commander, New Zealand Fire Service said they welcome additional measures to make the road safer.

“We support the installation of a wire rope barrier which can be easily removed to allow access for emergency vehicles.”

The median barrier will complement a number of other safety measures introduced recently on this stretch of highway. These include traffic monitoring equipment and portable variable message signs at each end of the highway.

“Three cameras and a traffic loop have been installed to monitor traffic behaviour and flows at the site,” said Mr Locke. “Transit will have the cameras monitored 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week when the barrier is in place.”

“Having ‘real-time’ information will assist emergency services to respond more quickly as the cameras will instantly pick up any incidents – such as breakdowns and accidents – on the road. We will be able to pass that information on to the appropriate emergency service, meaning a faster and more efficient response to incidents,” said Mr Locke.

While the 700-metre section is being installed, Transit will be working on the design of Stage Two of the project, the installation of a further four kilometres of wire rope median barrier along the length of the coastal section of Centennial Highway.

“By designing Stage Two now, we will be ready to build as soon as Stage One has been assessed” Mr Locke said.


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