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.