• May 25, 2018
This strip of road is locking people out of their communities. Photo: Grace Noles.
Dangerous roads in the Pohutakawa Coast leave residents shut out of their community.
The winding single-lane road from Sommerville to Beachlands stretches 16km and is the site of a serious crash at least every two weeks, says Maraetai resident Connor Nelson.
Sixteen crashes took place on Whitford-Maraetai road in the first week of 2018 alone.
“The roads are notorious for crashing because people aren’t driving to the conditions,” said Mr Nelson.
“Crashes block off the entire Whitford-Maraetai Road. It’s the only main road to and from Maraetai.
“There is a coastal route through Clevedon but that adds almost an hour onto the journey.”
Mr Nelson said he has found himself stuck at work in East Tamaki multiple times because he cannot physically drive home due to crashes.
Police Constable Troy Larsen says this road is a high risk crash area because there are open roads with a 100km/h speed limit and the area is less patrolled by police.
“Some drivers don’t drive to the conditions and lose control due to travelling too fast around the sharp corners. Alcohol is also a factor because people living in a rural area are less likely to be stopped by police.”
Constable Larsen says when there is a crash, the road can be blocked off to residents anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours.
“It depends on the amount of cars, whether they’re blocking the road, and how long the tow truck takes to arrive.”
A Manurewa resident, Kelsey Geayley, commutes to Maraetai daily and is constantly inconvenienced by the road being blocked off with no warning.
Ms Geayley says the most frustrating thing is the lack of warning when the roads are closed.
“Closing those roads frequently has such a huge impact for the entire community.”
“There’s only the one road from Manurewa to Maraetai, so if there’s a crash there, you either can’t get through or you have to go all the way around the Clevedon way which takes an extra hour”.
Local police have repeatedly warned motorists to drive to the limits because of the particularly dangerous stretch of roads from the Sommerville Road roundabout to the Beachlands-Maraetai roundabout.