LITTER can be seen almost anywhere on State Highway 35, ranging from bottles to plastic bags and everything in-between. Photo James Sandbrook OB4789-01

THE New Zealand Transport Agency is prioritising safety over clean roadsides in the wake of an accident at Pikowai earlier this year in which three roadworkers were killed.

With State Highway 35 around the East Coast adorned with litter, residents have taken to social media to berate the state of the roadside ahead of the coming summer tourism season.

“Driving to town and back both sides of State Highway 35 is disgusting,” said one person.

“Goodness knows what visitors think.”

NZTA Bay of Plenty systems manager Rob Campbell said cleanings would be less frequent for the safety of contractors.

“Contractor safety is a top priority for the NZTA,” he said.

This follows a fatal roadside incident on State Highway 2 between Pikowai and Matata in February, in which three Higgins workers lost their lives.

“The recent fatalities involving construction and maintenance crew on our state highway network have resulted in an urgent review of methods of operation while carrying out maintenance work,” he said.

“New work practices have been introduced to offer additional protection to our workers, which have meant that litter collection is done less frequently.

“This may result in more litter being visible on the network, but we are confident that the required standards will be met.”