‘Please slow the (truck) down’
Three frustrated city councillors are urging drivers at a northern Hamilton intersection to slow the ‘‘truck’’ down.
The trio organised a black-andwhite billboard for Rototuna’s Thomas Road and Gordonton Road intersection as a stopgap measure – a variable speed limit around the road is expected to be in place in a couple of months. The sign reads, ‘‘Slow the _______ down’’, with the blank filled with a picture of a truck.
The T-junction connects a 50kmh zone (Thomas Rd) with an 80kmh rural thoroughfare (Gordonton Rd) and East Ward councillors Mark Bunting and James Casson say they hear of crashes or near misses every week.
They got frustrated with slow progress on a speed change and, with West Ward Cr Dave Macpherson, have piled on the pressure with a public message to motorists.
But council is working with the NZ Transport Agency on a plan involving sensors and electronic speed signs, which would to bring the speed down to 60kmh when there are turning cars.
People leaving Thomas Rd often pull out into Gordonton Rd without realising cars are approaching at 80kmh, Bunting said.
‘‘It’s kind of a perfect storm . . . They go into what they think is a 50kmh gap and it’s actually an 80kmh gap, and wham.
‘‘A lot of people are calling for roundabouts and traffic islands ... that’s huge money and huge time and we haven’t got that.’’
In June, Hamilton City Council committed to bringing deaths on its roads down to zero and councillors are taking that seriously, Bunting said.
Reports of near misses at the intersection come in every week, said Casson, a former police officer.
‘‘Last week, we had two people quite badly hurt here.
‘‘[Residents] are going ‘What the hell are you guys doing?’’’
‘‘We have been trying to get action done for quite a while, but then you hit the brick wall – staff want to get it done but then they’ve got the bureaucracy.’’
They aren’t blaming staff, Bunting said, but sometimes councillors have to ‘‘rattle a few cages upwards’’.
Normally it’s a four- to fivemonth process to change speed limits, said Macpherson, who chairs council’s growth and infrastructure committee.
In this case, the NZTA looks likely to agree to a variable Gordonton Rd speed limit, which would extend 150m on each side of the intersection, he said.
The plan will be on the agenda for the August 1 growth and infrastructure meeting.
‘‘We actually like the idea of the flashing variable sign,’’ Macpherson said. ‘‘That will draw more attention to it than just an ordinary old 60kmh sign.’’
The process is also several months quicker than the usual one, and he believes the difference is ‘‘driven by councillors saying this is an absolute priority’’.
Council dropped Gordonton Rd’s speed limit to 80kmh several years ago and made minor improvements at the intersection in 2016, operations manager for city transport Robyn Denton said.
Other speed limit alterations for the city are going through the usual process – which requires changing a bylaw, public consultation, hearings and adoption – and could come into effect around January.
‘‘For [Gordonton Rd], because it’s an approved process by NZTA, they can do it through a gazette notice. So we’re hoping to be able to . . . have something in place within a couple of months,’’ Denton said.
The lower limit will be legally enforceable and NZTA will monitor its use to pick up tips for other sites around the country.
NZTA said in a statement that it was working with the Hamilton City Council on the proposal.