PHOTO: Simon Bloomberg

Death at intersection ‘only a matter of time’

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Workers in Wakatu Estate are convinced there will be a fatal accident at the corner of Main Rd Stoke and Elms St unless something is done to improve the safety of the high-risk intersection.

A dramatic three-car collision during rush-hour last Thursday was the second crash last week and the latest in a long line of accidents at the intersection. The crash occurred at around 4pm when a car pulled out of Elms St in the Wakatu Estate and was hit by a second car travelling south along Main Rd Stoke – a third car was also involved, ending up in the ditch next to the road.

Incredibly, three people, including two children, suffered only minor injuries in the accident, but Ian Gabites who works at the Bridgestone Tyre Centre in Wakatu Estate believes it’s only a matter of time before someone is killed at the intersection.

“It’s not too bad during the day but at rush-hour it’s diabolical. I’ve seen three or four accidents there this year and there’s going to be more unless something happens. The guy down at Morley Motorcycles got taken out there a few months ago. That was pretty bad – someone is going to get killed.”

Although there is a merging lane for traffic turning right out of Wakatu Estate onto Main Rd Stoke, Ian’s workmate Cheryl Dickinson  says the volume and speed of traffic makes it “really hard to get out.” Cheryl says she often has to wait as long as 10 minutes to get out of Elms St during rush-hour and that “it’s a wonder there aren’t more accidents there”.

Cheryl says the speed limit on Main Rd Stoke needs to be reduced from 80kmh to 50kmh to make the intersection safer. She says southbound vehicles often turn left from Elms St onto Main Rd Stoke to get to Whakatu Drive, to avoid a long wait at the intersection.

Nathan Jeffries of Ezy Kitchens agrees that lowering the speed limit “would give drivers a chance to get out of Elms St”.

“I’ve had a couple of near misses so something needs to be done. There’s so much traffic going in and out of here that it’s becoming a real problem.”

Tasman district police road policing services team leader, Senior Sergeant Grant Andrews, drives past the intersection on his way to work and says “it may be time for us and the council to look at a speed reduction”. Grant says the intersection’s layout and speed limit were designed for lower traffic volumes and needs to be updated to accommodate the extra traffic.