Killer corner no safer

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None of the measures mooted to increase driver safety at the Cherry Lane – State Highway 1 killer corner have been done a month after many were expected to be in place.

One of the many crashes at the Cherry Lane intersection.
One of the many crashes at the Cherry Lane intersection.
In early May, the NZ Transport Agency detailed short and long term actions ranging from road signs to reduced speed limits but a month after NZTA’s own deadline Cherry Lane residents are still waiting.

The measures agreed with a residents’ group followed widespread calls for action on the corner prompted by concerns at the high number of serious crashes, including a fatal accident in April.

Cherry Ln spokesman Simon Ashworth said despite the lack of progress he was giving NZTA and its contractor Opus “the benefit of the doubt” and the first of the short term measures could be soon completed.

Ashworth said he’d been told signs advising drivers exiting Cherry Lane and Bollard Rd to go south to the Airport Rd interchange when the highway is busy had been designed and ordered. They would mainly benefit visitors to the area as locals were well aware of the dangers, he said.

Similarly, a pamphlet to help Tamahere people, including Eventide village residents, highlight to visitors how to get to Hamilton if they turn left out of Annebrook Road, Cherry Lane or Bollard Road had also been approved and was expected to be printed shortly, he said.

In May, NZTA Principal Safety Engineer Michelle Te Wharau said the agency would also investigate, design and implement other safety improvements. They included removing the passing lane on SH1 from Annebrook Road past Cherry Lane toward Bollard Road and replacing it with a wide flush median, reducing the speed limit on SH1 in the vicinity and approaches to Cherry Lane, and removing the left-turn slip lane into Cherry Lane but keeping a shoulder.

The target was to have the work completed by June 30, depending on the weather.

“We expect the speed limit consultation will take around three months and the passing lane will need to be removed before the speed limit can be reduced,” Te Wharau said.

Today, Te Wharau told Tamahere Forum that progress had been slower than she hoped but work had been done on establishing where the extent of the reduced speed limit would be.

“This hasn’t been a straight forward exercise given the development of the off ramp to the airport and start of the passing lanes and the location of Bollard Road.”

All the measures outlined in May were being designed and “will be implemented as soon as we can,” she said.

Te Wharau told Ashworth she anticipated meeting with the residents’ group within the next two weeks with “a more firmed up design and plans for your consideration.”

July 28 update: Ashworth advised that the residents group had been invited to a meeting this week to discuss proposed plans. He described the timing as “all good and positive at this stage”.

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