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Commuters demand action over Wellington region's most dangerous road

Users of State Highway 58 north of Wellington are demanding urgent safety upgrades after the NZ Transport Agency delayed work on the road.

That's despite NZTA calling it the most dangerous road in the Wellington region with 200 crashes, including four deaths, in the past decade.

A $30 million package of improvements, including road widening and roundabouts, was announced in 2014.

The work was due to be done by next year, but NZTA's Wellington regional systems manager, Mark Owen, said it's taken longer than expected to buy land.

He says the agency has been "incrementally making improvements" such as lowering the speed limit from 100km/h to 80km/h.

However, for the Pāuatahanui Residents Association that's not good enough.

Its chair, Ken McAdam, today presented the community's concerns at a meeting of the Greater Wellington Regional Council's transport committee.

He said State Highway 58 is so congested that at one point he had to wait 14 minutes at an intersection for a gap to clear.

He says people will "take a jump at a smaller gap" and risk accidents. "It shouldn't be like that," said Mr McAdam. He said the community wants a short term fix "now rather than later".

The 15-kilometre highway, which connects the Hutt Valley to Porirua, carries about 17,500 vehicles each day.

But the Automobile Association estimates that number will increase to 25,000 with the opening of the four-lane motorway Transmission Gully next year. The association said increasing capacity with extra passing lanes as well as safety improvements were vital.

"We are not asking for a new road - we just want to make this one usable," said Geordie Cassin, the Automobile Association's chair of the Wellington district council

He called for a the regional council transport committee to lobby Government for a solution. "From our point of view State Highway 58 cannot wait," said Mr Cassin.

The transport agency said it has listened to concerns and will consider what other safety improvements can be made in the interim.

Porirua mayor Mike Tana was among several regional mayors attending today's meeting. He hopes NZTA is listening to the residents and has asked for a response.

"They do have to come back with something that responds to the concerns," he said. "If something is not done there, people will make bad decisions and take their lives into their own hands."

The Haywards Hill interchange/State Highway 58 in Lower Hutt. Source: rnz.co.nz