80kmh limit frus­trates Auck­lan­ders


Amidst calls to slash the speed limit on many New Zealand roads, fum­ing Auck­lan­ders are cam­paign­ing to go faster on one of theirs.

They’ve set up an on­line pe­ti­tion to get the four lane North­west­ern High­way’s speed limit back up to 100kmh, where it was be­fore the bil­lion dol­lar road­works for the Water­view Tun­nel be­gan.

Con­struc­tion has been com­pleted but an 80kmh speed limit, con­sid­ered by many to be tem­po­rary, was made per­ma­nent — a de­ci­sion driv­ers of the sleek new road have deemed a ‘‘lu­di­crous’’ recipe for road rage.

Es­pe­cially as mo­torists fur­ther south are poised to legally drive reach 110kmh for the first time, legally.

In April, the New Zealand Trans­port Agency (NZTA) an­nounced that 80kmh would be the per­ma­nent speed limit for the 8km stretch of high­way be­tween Rose­bank Rd and Spaghetti Junc­tion, span­ning the Water­view Tun­nel’s en­trance.

Long time westie Be­van Gra­cie said driv­ing down the North­west­ern left him fed up now, and that he was scep­ti­cal the lower limit would im­prove safety.

‘‘I think the frus­tra­tion you feel go­ing so slowly on that road makes it more dan­ger­ous,’’ he said.

His fel­low mo­torist Saten Sharma, who signed the pe­ti­tion, said driv­ing 80kmh on the new­lyup­graded road ‘‘feels like you’re not even mov­ing’’.

‘‘On week­ends, the most frus­trat­ing thing is it’s empty, and you’re still do­ing 80kmh,’’ he said.

‘‘Are we say­ing our driv­ers are so un­qual­i­fied [they can’t drive] drive close to 100kmh on the mo­tor­way?’’

The pe­ti­tion to raise the new speed, which had more than 10,000 sig­na­tures to date and would get sub­mit­ted to NZTA if it reached 15,000, posed the ques­tion of why a ‘‘brand new four lane mo­tor­way’’ could not han­dle a higher speed limit.

NZTA’s sys­tem de­sign man­ager Brett Glid­don jus­ti­fied it as ’’world­wide best prac­tice’’ to have 80kmh on ap­proaches to tun­nels, to re­duce the risk of crashes.

He said the agency had been ‘‘mon­i­tor­ing the op­er­a­tional and safety per­for­mance’’ of the net­work since the tun­nel opened.

How­ever, he wouldn’t say whether the pe­ti­tion might im­pact change.


West Auck­land driver Be­van Gra­cie was dis­ap­pointed to learn he could only drive up to 80kmh.

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