NZTA slammed for failure to fund SH73 improvements

FRUSTRATED: West Melton Residents' Association member Bruce Russell is "bloody annoyed" the NZTA didn't include proposed improvements to the SH73 and Weedons Ross Rd intersection in its National Land Transport Programme for 2018-21.

West Melton residents will have to wait at least three years before proposed improvements to State Highway 73 are reconsidered.

The improvements, which included the installation of traffic lights at the intersection of SH73 and Weedons Ross Rd, weren’t included in the New Zealand Transport Agency’s National Land Transport Programme for 2018-21.

West Melton Residents’ Association member Bruce Russell has been campaigning for more than 10 years for something to be done about the busy intersection.

He’s “bloody annoyed” at the NZTA’s decision and says the area is “very, very dangerous.”

“Obviously the criteria to upgrade this corner is a death . . . a fatal accident,” he said.

Mr Russell believes traffic lights would help solve the issue.

NZTA crash analysis data shows there have been six crashes around the intersection since 2006.

Selwyn MP Amy Adams said she was “incredulous” at the decision and was advised in June by the NZTA it had identified the need for traffic lights and signals at the intersection.

“These improvements had been recommended for inclusion in both the 2018/21 Regional and Land Transport programmes,” she said.

However, NZTA director regional relationships Jim Harland said being included in the RLTP “does not guarantee inclusion and funding in the NLTP.”

He said the intersection didn’t meet the new threshold for funding under the investment assessment framework.

“Using this framework, it was assessed as a medium crash risk and safety alignment, with a low benefit cost ratio,” Mr Harland said.

District councillor Craig Watson said he was “deeply concerned for the people of West Melton who everyday take their life into their own hands crossing that road.”

He said residents do take the intersection carefully but it seems NZTA will not fix the intersection until there is a serious accident and someone is hurt.

Mr Harland said safety is a top priority for the transport agency but “funding has to be targeted to areas which have the greatest need for improvements.”

He said the project could be considered in the next NLTP.

Ms Adams is concerned the decision may be a consequence of the current Government’s cutting $5 billion of funding from regional highways.

“Under this Government we are paying more than ever in petrol taxes, but necessary road safety work is not being carried out. It is not acceptable,” she said.

When asked about this, Mr Harland said “the 2018-21 forecast expenditure on Canterbury regional network improvements is $702 million, compared to $725 million in 2015-18.”

“So the difference in spending in this category is not large,” he said.