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Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith has called for a safety review of State Highway 60 and associated local roads west of Richmond following the spate of serious accidents over the past month.

“The Appleby Highway has had four serious accidents in the last month involving fatalities and serious injuries. The problem is not just State Highway 60 but too many accidents and near misses on Lower Queen Street and feeder roads like McShane Road and Lansdowne Road. The fundamental problem is growing traffic from increased population, exports and tourists. We need to review the number of lanes, intersection designs, speed limits and other measures to get on top of a serious road safety problem. We particularly need to look at the provision of safe turning and merging lanes given the frequency of accidents around intersections.

“These horrific accidents on the Appleby Highway are reflecting a growing road toll issue regionally and nationally. The national road toll, once over 800 in the 1970s consistently reduced every year to just 250 in 2015, but has increased by 50 per cent since 2013 and is now at 380. The regional road toll for Nelson and Marlborough bottomed out at just five in 2015 but has grown even faster to 10 in 2016 and 14 in 2017. Part of the regional deterioration in Nelson and Marlborough can be attributed to the diversion of State Highway 1 through St Arnaud and Murchison following the 2015 Kaikoura earthquake, but the problem is bigger than just this.

“The volume of traffic between Richmond and Motueka has doubled over the past 20 years. The new $30 million Ruby bypass completed in 2010 and $11 million Maisey Road have improved the safety record on these sections. The review needs to be looking at what further upgrades will help make this increasingly busy road safe.

Dr Smith has written to the Minister and Associate Minister of Transport and the NZTA. He has had discussions with Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne on convening a meeting next week of relevant agencies to initiate the review.

“We need both short term and long term solutions. Warning signs, slower speed limits and more road policing need urgent consideration now. The longer term solution needs to be focused roading infrastructure. We also need to raise awareness of this dangerous stretch of road so people will take additional care.”

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