Concerned Wakefield residents are campaigning the New Zealand Transport Agency for a safety upgrade to three road crossings on SH6 after several near misses involving school children and trucks recently.
The issue is the central refuge at the Pigeon Valley, Faulkners Bush and Arrow Street crossings aren’t big enough for more than a few people, add in a bike, buggy or scooter and it’s dangerous territory.
Mum-of-three Jenny Lines, who is fronting the Wakefield Road Crossings campaign, says, “It can be absolute mayhem some days when school kids are crossing, the cars are spooked by the sheer volume of people. Sometimes the entire road comes to a standstill to let them all cross, which creates the potential danger of a truck crashing into a queue of stationary cars.
“All we want is to be able to cross without putting pedestrians or motorists in danger. The new subdivision, under development off George Fyfe Way, will add to the problem and make it worse.”
As Wakefield’s population and traffic flow have increased significantly since the days when the crossings were first put in, they just aren’t adequate enough to cope with modern-day living.
The group has given two major presentations to Tasman District Council and the NZTA, one which showed visuals, concerns, suggested improvements, and possible funding avenues.
The other gave results from a truck survey which the group conducted to gain the drivers’ perspectives.
Suggestions for safer crossings include making the central reservation wider or an ‘S’ shape with a cage around it to give more space for people to congregate; a zebra crossing; or an electronic speed change sign.
The ultimate solution, however, would be an underpass like the one at Lord Rutherford Road in Brightwater. This would solve the issue for pedestrians and traffic.
Tasman District Council are supportive with councillor for the Moutere-Waimea Ward, Christeen Mackenzie, calling Jenny “inspirational”.
“I’m all for the upgrades,” says Christeen. “It reminds me of the power of communities when they work together then advocate for change. This can result in solutions which make our communities better places.”
A safety assessment has been carried out by the NZTA, and Top of the South System Manager Andrew James says, “We are hoping to put in some short-term safety measures such as improving signage and repainting road markings.”
The NZTA are also looking into systems used nationally and whether they can be applied here.
“We are not just fussy parents,” says Jenny. “This is an accident waiting to happen.” It’s just a matter of time.”