16 Apr 2024

Authorities refuse to enforce Brynderwyns detour ban following truck crash

2:16 pm on 16 April 2024

By Jenny Lingygv of NZ Herald

The truck got struck at a hairpin bend on Cove Road, sparking hours of traffic chaos.

The truck got struck at a hairpin bend on Cove Road, sparking hours of traffic chaos. Photo: Supplied

Authorities are refusing to enforce laws put in place along a State Highway 1 detour route during the Brynderwyn Hills closure in Northland, despite trucks illegally using the road.

Residents are furious after a large truck "brazenly" drove through checkpoints along Cove Road in Mangawhai last week and became stuck on a hairpin bend - blocking both lanes for hours.

The Northland Transportation Alliance set restrictions banning truck and trailer units from using the Cove Road detour route during the 10-week closure of SH1 over the hills.

The restrictions were approved by Whangārei and Kaipara district councils under the Land Transport Amendment Act covering temporary restrictions of heavy traffic on roads.

Police initially said it was responsible for enforcement and was determining whether charges would be laid.

When asked if police would fine the truck driver or company, and what the penalty would be, a spokeswoman said: "Taking into consideration the circumstances of the crash, police have reviewed the matter and at this stage no charges will be laid."

Police would not say what those circumstances were, and after some prompting, said fines were the responsibility of the local council.

Whangārei District Council did not respond to the Northern Advocate's questions about whether the truck company would be fined or how the driver got past checkpoints.

But Langs Beach resident Peter Harris said traffic management people working on Cove Road tried to stop the truck at the Mangawhai checkpoint and turn it around.

"But the truck [driver] ignored them and just drove through."

Harris said his friend was behind the truck but did not get stuck "because they knew what was going to happen and turned around".

Roading authorities were confident heavy trucks would stay off local roads designated for light vehicles during the 26 February to 13 May closure after more than $5.5 million was spent on upgrading them.

The transportation alliance said council and NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi staff had been in communication with the police regarding "increased presence and enforcement" across the detour routes over the closure period.

Harris said there should be "heavy penalties" for the truck company.

"He did this brazenly, against the regulations.

"People have to realise this is SH1 going through these one-lane areas.

"These particular two corners are just not suitable for truck and trailers, so finally they made up regulations to stop them.

"But this has just been ignored."

Harris said locals "are furious because the [two] corners are notorious".

"It has happened several times before during the last 12 months.

"There could have been so many local catastrophes resulting from people in Mangawhai needing medical or hospital attention in Whangārei, or other important appointments ... let alone emergency vehicles."

The National Road Carriers Association said there was "no plausible reason" why the driver was using Cove Road.

One week after Wednesday's incident, NZTA and the council said they were still investigating the incident.

An NZTA spokeswoman said while Cove Road was under council authority, it was unclear who was responsible for traffic management.

Trucks and truck and trailer units up to 50 tonnes were allowed on Paparoa-Oakleigh Rd, however larger trucks were supposed to be using the SH14 and SH12 detour through Dargaville.

This story was originally published by the New Zealand Herald.