Tack­ling a no­to­ri­ous high­way

Clutha Leader - - FRONT PAGE - MARY-JO TOHILL

‘‘I'd like it to be 50. It could be some­thing to work on.’’

What make?

Quite a lot, Wai­hola peo­ple are hop­ing, fol­low­ing news that the NZ Trans­port Agency pro­poses to re­duce the speed limit through the Clutha district town, from 70kmh to 60kmh, on one of the south’s most dan­ger­ous sec­tions of State High­way 1. The process to make the change could start hap­pen­ing this month.

Wai­hola Cafe and Bar man­ager Ni­cola Cairns, who with part­ner Peter Michelle also owns Lake Wai­hola Hol­i­day Park be­hind the pub, said the road seemed to be get­ting busier and busier, with a lot more big trucks.

‘‘It can be tricky to judge dis­tances be­cause the traf­fic is mov­ing so fast, and it can be hard to ne­go­ti­ate. You can be wait­ing a long time to make a turn [onto the high­way] to get out, or get across the road.’’

It could be quite daunt­ing for peo­ple pulling out of the camp­ing ground, es­pe­cially those tow­ing car­a­vans.

She felt most peo­ple would be hap­pier if the speed limit was low­ered even more.

‘‘I’d like it to be 50. It could be some­thing to work on.’’ dif­fer­ence will 10kmh

A lower speed limit would also be bet­ter for busi­ness in Wai­hola, be­cause slower mov­ing traf­fic would give vis­i­tors more time to pull in, and in gen­eral would make the road a lot safer, she said.

Trans­port Agency se­nior safety en­gi­neer Roy John­ston said if the speed limit pro­posal went ahead, the process to change it could start in May.

This would in­volve pub­lic con- sul­ta­tion with com­mu­nity, po­lice, busi­nesses and res­i­dents for feed­back, and to de­cide on the way for­ward.

The Wai­hola area is in­cluded in the na­tion­wide $600m ru­ral road safety ini­tia­tive Safe Roads. It is part of the SH1 Mos­giel to Bal­clutha sec­tion of the no­to­ri­ously treach­er­ous north to south state high­way, which has been ear­marked for fu­ture im­prove­ment by the trans­port agency.

At the mo­ment, the agency is spend­ing be­tween $3.4m and $5.1m on the SH1 Dunedin to Mos­giel stretch, to im­prove road and road­side safety, which will in­clude ad­di­tional side bar­ri­ers, a wider cen­tre line or me­dian bar­rier at the Mos­giel end, and high per­for­mance road mark­ings.

It has been iden­ti­fied as one of the roads that can be made safer. In the last 10 years, at least two peo­ple have lost their lives and 34 peo­ple have been se­ri­ously in­jured along this busy sec­tion of road.

The NZ Trans­port Agency is propos­ing to lower the Wai­hola speed limit from 70kmh to 60kmh on State High­way 1. Wai­hola Cafe and Bar/ Lake Wai­hola Hol­i­day Park man­ager Ni­cola Cairns.

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