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