Te Uku residents not only think the main road is an accident waiting to happen, it is an accident that already has happened.
Local farmer Graeme (Crowie) Crowhurst and Te Uku Roast Office co-owner Bobo Ten Broek say they witness dozens of near misses daily and both know of two deaths and many other accidents along the notorious busy strip into Raglan.
“A lady crashed here just the other day and smashed her face in,” Bo says.
The pair say there are several factors impacting on the safety of the stretch of highway, including speed, blind spots along the road, cars pulling in and out for petrol and coffee, and school runs to and from Te Uku School.
“One of the biggest issues here is NZTA is very hard to negotiate with,” Crowie says. “It will probably take somebody in an accident for it to be a priority.”
They believe the easiest and most cost affective fix to Te Uku’s road safety issues is to reduce the speed limit to 50k.
“You are not going to change people’s attitudes and to cover everybody, you need to make the situation safe,” Crowie says.
“For the price of some 50k signs and spraying some paint on the road, that’s it,” Bo says.
NZTA Waikato Transport System Manager Karen Boyt says there is support to review speed limits in some parts of SH23, but in other parts the community is divided.
Changing the speed limit requires following a legal process and Karen says input from the local community is important.
“We’re reviewing the speed limit along the entire route from Hamilton to Raglan. This includes the section of road that runs through Te Uku. There is currently a 60km/h variable speed limit that operates at the school arrival and departure times,” she says.
“Meanwhile, we’re looking at other ways the road through Te Uku could be made safer. One option being considered is to put the power lines underground on the southern side of SH23 through Te Uku. This would provide space for the road to be widened to allow for a painted area in the middle of the road for turning vehicles.”
Although he has never considered selling, Graeme has offered his section on the corner of Okete Road and the state highway to Waitomo to try and address some of the issues caused by the location of the pumps. So far, he hasn’t heard back from them.
Waitomo has been in negotiations with NZTA and Te Uku store to remedy some of the issues caused by the pumps by resurfacing the area outside the pumps and adding another fuel storage tank to decrease the amount of tanker refills required.