Cost of wire barriers worth it - NZTA
The cost of safety barriers on State Highway 2 between Waihi and Trig Road are justified because of their safety benefits, says the New Zealand Transport Agency.
The two 4.8km steel wire rope barriers on both sides of the road cost $611,000, the NTZA has confirmed.
The $611,000 is the cost of the wire rope itself and doesn’t include the work required to install it such as pavement widening, drainage and earthworks, the NZTA says.
Road safety campaigner Geoff Upson feels money is being wasted on barriers on the side of road when it should be spent on improving road surfaces.
He says all the wire rope is good for is preventing the vehicle from going off the road, but it would still hit other traffic if it crossed the centre line.
The barriers are part of the NZTA’s SH2 Waihi to Omokoroa safety improvement project, it involves widening the road and road shoulders, widening the centreline, and putting in roadside safety barriers where there are power poles, trees and deep ditches.
In the 10 years from 2009 to 2018, 25 people lost their lives and another 66 were seriously injured along this stretch of SH2, says NTZA safe network programme portfolio delivery manager Dave Van Staden.
“Most of these crashes were caused by people running off the road and hitting trees, poles or ditches, head-on collisions and crashes at intersections.
“Flexible road safety barriers like the ones installed on SH2 are proven to be highly effective in preventing serious injuries and deaths.
“The barriers ‘catch’ vehicles that leave their lane. If you hit a flexible barrier, the steel cables flex, slowing down your vehicle and keeping it upright, they absorb the impact so you and the people with you, don’t.
“They prevent you from being deflected to the other side of the road, potentially hitting another vehicle, or trees, poles or deep ditches on the roadside
“People will always make mistakes when driving, but there are changes we can make so that simple mistakes don't cost lives.
“Mistakes are inevitable – deaths and serious injuries are not. We are committed to saving lives and preventing serious injuries on our roads.”
Geoff was driving the stretch of road when he noticed the barriers had been damaged following a crash so decided to do a video.
“The road surface right here is all bumpy and it’s got dips and it looks alright in the video but to drive it, it’s rubbish.”
He says the cost of repairing the fence on the side of the road would be cheaper than repairing the damaged barrier.
The NZTA says the cost of repairing the damaged posts from this crash is $5700.
Geoff also wants to see roads around the country better maintained, without pot holes dips and bumps.
“To me it's common sense that the road surface needs to be flat or smooth.
“I’m not an engineer, this is my opinion. We need to sort out the road surfaces in New Zealand before we start spending taxpayers money on things like this [barriers],” says Geoff.
“Around 40km of state highway, between Waihi and Omokoroa, is being made safer,” says Dave.
“These improvements will save lives and will raise the safety rating of the state highway.
“Some of these changes, like putting in a wide centreline, will also mean this road can be improved even more in the future – a median barrier could potentially be added, for example.”
The estimated social cost of a fatal crash is $5.07 million, $926,000 per reported serious crash and $107,000 per reported minor crash, The Ministry of Transport website says.
“If the wire rope barriers on this section of SH2 prevent even one serious injury crash, the $611,000 investment has been more than regained. Quite aside from the fact that real people will have avoided serious injury,” a NZTA spokesperson says.
The cost of the Waihi to Omokoroa project is $101 million with the Heath Road to Trig Road section costing around $7.5 million.