A long, straight 80km/h road, QEII Drive (SH74) in Christchurch had virtually no barriers to ensure the safety of pedestrians and drivers until earlier this year. With increasing activity on the road, two schools in close proximity and two unfortunate deaths on the Marshland to Burwood stretch of road in the last year, the NZ Transport Agency was prompted to call for the installation of a wire rope safety barrier (WRSB). Now, with the installation of CSP Pacific’s Armorwire WRSB completed in April, locals can rest easier in the knowledge there is a safety barrier between cyclists/pedestrians and highway traffic.
The $2.5m project is part of the Government’s $1.4 billion Safe Network Programme, a collaborative initiative that aims to avoid up to 160 deaths and serious injuries every year across New Zealand’s highest risk state highways and local roads.
In September last year a car crossed onto the wrong side of the road into the path of a van. Unfortunately the 86-year-old woman driver of the car was trapped in her vehicle and died at the scene. And in February this year a motorcyclist was also killed.
Janice Maher, Area Sales Manager - South Island for CSP Pacific says reports show that after the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes a number of new residential subdivisions were developed on the northern fringes of the city and both Avonside Girls' High School and Shirley Boys' High School were re-built at QEII Park. “This meant a large increase of pedestrians and kids on bikes going to and from school on the pathway that was only separated from vehicles by a strip of grass.”
QEII is also a main route for trucks going to the port meaning lots of big vehicles in close proximity to kids.
“Armorwire is a good system and now we have it installed everyone is feeling much happier about their safety,” says Wayne Morehead the Barrier Installation Team Foreman from Higgins Contractors and the one responsible for overseeing the installation of the WRSB system, which was used for both median and side of road applications.
“Working with CSP Pacific is easy,” he adds. “Janice and the CSP team are there to help and sort out things whenever we need it. They are great to deal with.”
“Safe separated infrastructure is so important because it’s the right of children to have independence at a young age and be able to get themselves to and from school without parents having to drive them,” said Associate Transport Minister Julie-Anne Genter who made a site visit to see the Higgins crew in action. Click to view the video.
Transport Agency System Manager Pete Connors says the safety barriers will make a real difference on the high-risk highway as many of the crashes in recent years have been head-on or run-off road.
“Flexible road safety barriers ‘catch’ vehicles that leave their lane before they hit something less forgiving – like other vehicles or roadside hazards such as trees, poles and ditches. People will always make mistakes, but there are changes that can be made so simple mistakes don't cost lives.”