Streets slow­down

Waikato Times - - Front Page - Mike Mather mike.mather@stuff.co.nz

A pro­posed 20kmh speed drop on one of Hamil­ton’s busiest roads is ‘‘close to fail­ing the com­mon sense test’’ ac­cord­ing to Hamil­ton’s deputy mayor.

Ge­off Tay­lor has urged an­other look at the rec­om­men­da­tion to drop the max­i­mum limit on the Avalon Drive by­pass from 80kmh to 60kmh, part of a suite of sug­gested changes by Waka Ko­tahi NZ Trans­port Agency, which has ju­ris­dic­tion on the state high­way net­work in the city.

Tay­lor said he found it hard to un­der­stand why the route – built as a by­pass to al­low peo­ple to get through the city more quickly – would now be sub­ject to a slow­down.

‘‘It feels strange ... close to fail­ing the com­mon sense test,’’ he told his Hamil­ton City Coun­cil col­leagues yes­ter­day. ‘‘It seems counter-in­tu­itive.’’

Mean­while, coun­cil­lor Mark Bunting has sent a blunt mes­sage to his coun­ter­parts on neigh­bour­ing coun­cils to ‘‘grow a pair’’ and put the safety of res­i­dents ahead of a vo­cal mi­nor­ity who pre­fer to bar­rel along the Waikato’s ru­ral roads at speeds of 100kmh or more.

Th­ese strong opin­ions were among those ex­pressed at an in­fra­struc­ture op­er­a­tions com­mit­tee meet­ing, dur­ing a re­port on the pro­posed speed limit changes on the city’s state high­ways. Sev­eral staff mem­bers from Waka Ko­tahi were at that meet­ing as part of an on­go­ing se­ries of dis­cus­sions with coun­cil staff and coun­cil­lors on the changes which, if adopted, will form part of the coun­cil’s Speed Man­age­ment Plan.

In July the coun­cil will get started on a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion process on the pro­posed changes to the speed lim­its in the plan – which has the ul­ti­mate goal of elim­i­nat­ing deaths and se­ri­ous in­juries on the city’s roads.

The pro­posed changes in­clude

■ SH1 Avalon Drive by­pass (Crawford St to Ri­fle Range Rd) – re­duc­tion from 80kmh to 60kmh.

■ SH1 Green­wood St (Kil­lar­ney Rd to Kahikatea Dr) – re­duc­tion from 80kmh to 60kmh.

■ SH1 Lorne St (Ohaupo Rd to Nor­mandy Ave) – re­duc­tion from

60kmh to 50kmh.

■ SH1 Cob­ham Dr (Nor­mady Ave to Howell Ave) – re­duc­tion from

80kmh to 60kmh.

■ SH3 Ohaupo Rd (Resthills Dr to south of Dixon Rd) – re­duc­tion from 70kmh to 60kmh.

■ SH3 Ohaupo Rd (south of Dixon Rd to Raynes Rd) – re­duc­tion from 100kmh to 80kmh.

While the roads will likely be slowed down, the coun­cil is putting the prover­bial pedal to the metal and speed­ing up the process.

That’s be­cause two of the stretches of road in ques­tion are also the scene of ma­jor con­struc­tion projects: The Cob­ham Dr/Wairere Dr in­ter­change, and the cre­ation of a new round­about on Ohaupo Rd that is due to be com­pleted later this year and will link to the new Pea­cocke neigh­bour­hood.

Bunting weighed in on Avalon Drive, and queried whether bar­ri­ers separat­ing the lanes of traf­fic would be a bet­ter way to im­prove safety on the road than drop­ping the speed limit.

Ear­lier in the meet­ing Ju­nine Ste­wart, Waka Ko­tahi’s safe net­work pro­gramme man­ager said some coun­cils were more re­cep­tive than oth­ers when it came to low­er­ing speed lim­its.

The Horowhenua District Coun­cil, for ex­am­ple, last year in­tro­duced speed limit re­duc­tions for most ru­ral roads to 80kmh on sealed ru­ral roads and to 60kmh on most ru­ral res­i­den­tial and un­sealed roads – a move that had earned them plau­dits from road safety ex­perts.

This was seized on by Bunting in the form of a broad­side against un­spec­i­fied other politi­cians in the Waikato re­gion. I want to put a mes­sage out to neigh­bour­ing coun­cils ... ‘‘Grow a pair. Po­lit­i­cal brav­ery is not the op­po­site of safety.’’

Com­mit­tee chair­woman An­gela O’Leary said she en­dorsed most of the safety changes.

Many of the mo­torists who drove on the Avalon Dr by­pass had lit­tle choice but to travel at 60kmh, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the morn­ing and evening com­mute, she said.

Cr Ewan Wilson reck­oned Waka Ko­tahi needed to ex­tol the ben­e­fits of lower speed lim­its at the city’s schools.

CHRIS­TEL YARD­LEY/STUFF

A pro­posal to drop the speed limit on the Avalon Drive by­pass from 80 to 60kmh has raised the eye­brows of some coun­cil­lors.

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