Junction safety concerns raised

Ballantyne Rd residents John Wellington and Julie Jones, with their daughter Lucy (3), say this intersection with Riverbank Rd, near Wanaka, is the site of a potentially serious accident. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Ballantyne Rd residents John Wellington and Julie Jones, with their daughter Lucy (3), say this intersection with Riverbank Rd, near Wanaka, is the site of a potentially serious accident. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Unless urgent steps are taken to improve a hazardous rural intersection near Wanaka, nearby residents fear it is a case of when, not if, a serious accident will occur.

Julie Jones and John Wellington spoke to the Wanaka Community Board this week of their safety concerns for motorists travelling through the junction of Ballantyne and Riverbank Rds.

The couple, who live on Ballantyne Rd, said cars routinely failed to give way at the Riverbank Rd stop signs, resulting in several minor collisions and many near-misses in recent years.

Many of the transgressors were tourists bypassing Wanaka from the West Coast who appeared oblivious to the road signage, but local drivers were equally at fault, they said. In January, Ms Jones experienced the intersection's dangers directly when a camper van travelling on Riverbank Rd ignored the stop sign and slammed into her car as she drove on Ballantyne Rd.

''Both the vehicles were written off and I think we were very lucky there weren't any serious injuries.''

The couple said the problem was getting worse as tourists were increasingly being directed down Riverbank Rd by their vehicles' GPS systems.

''I'd really like to see something done quickly to make this junction safer,'' Ms Jones said.

''I know a lot of it's driver error but there seems to be an awful lot of driver error there.

''The way the junction is at the moment, I think it's just a matter of time before there will be a serious accident there.''

Queenstown Lakes District Council crash statistics for the intersection show there have been eight recorded crashes there since 2003. However, senior transport, infrastructure and assets engineer Richard Hilliard said it could take up to six months for non-fatal crashes to be recorded in the crash analysis system so some could have occurred since September that were yet to be entered.

''It should also be noted that not all crashes get entered into the database as it is based only on reported crashes.''

Cr Lyal Cocks said the community board had already flagged a redesign of the intersection as ''high priority'', both in terms of safety and functionality for large turning vehicles.

An annual plan submission would be made for funding, rather than waiting for the completion of council's transport strategy review, which could take some time.

Cr Cocks said it would be appropriate to work on the intersection's redevelopment with Aurora Energy, which was recently granted consent to establish a sub-station at the corner of Ballantyne and Riverbank Rds.

Mr Wellington suggested in the interim, rumble strips running across the road could serve as an auditory and vibratory reminder to motorists to slow as they approached the intersection.

''I believe this is a relatively cheap thing that can be done quickly ...

''I would urge the community board to investigate this as a matter of urgency,'' Mr Wellington said.

Board chairwoman Rachel Brown said she would pass on the suggestion to the council for consideration.

- lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz