Call to slow gorge’s summer traffic
Businesses in the popular Karangahake Gorge are calling for a lower speed limit ahead of an anticipated visitor influx this summer.
The calls come as thenz Transport Agency confirms it will review the 80km/h speed limit of the stretch of State Highway 2 between Waihi and Paeroa.
James Beck of Waikino Hotel said he feared a serious accident would happen before anything was done.
“If you start slowing people down to 60km/h in the area, it can create a backlog in the 100km/h zone — I understand it’s a tricky one. But every now and then you see someone coming across the road and they’ve got kids with pushbikes, they’re there in the middle of the road. It’s heartstopping. Because people don’t slow down coming past us.”
Beck’s comments come as a fixed speed camera located near the eastern entrance to the gorge is revealed as the second busiest in New Zealand, snapping 5388 speeders and hauling in more than half a million dollars in fines for the month of June.
“As far as penalties for people breaking the speed limit, we’re all for it,” Mr Beck said.
“We are just going to become busier and busier. There will be more people which means more cars on the road.”
The Tailsman Cafe and Crafts owner Karen Drake said the area was already busy and she was surprised there had not been more crashes.
“All you hear outside the window is people honking their horns because people are travelling so fast and others are trying to turn in to us or the reserve. Then you’ve got trucks coming around the corner doing 90km/h, they start blaring their horn because someone is still getting up to speed from leaving the carpark.”
The cafe is located across from the main carpark and entrance to the Karangahake Gorge reserve. Work has recently been done to extend the carpark here and provide more parking at Waikino.
“Just coming out on the road is deadly. It’s incredible there hasn’t been more crashes. There’s got to be something done about it,” she said.
She would ideally like an underpass for pedestrians to cater for the gorge’s growing popularity.
“The whole gorge area is meant to be scenic. People need to slow down.”
Resident Helen Wilson said the highway was a “lethal piece of road”.
“It’s a busy road. It’s dangerous. You have to be extra careful when you cross it. [Some drivers] still whip through there at 100km/h.”
Agency transport system manager Rob Campbell said it was developing a programme which would determine where improved speed management could provide a significant reduction in the number of people who are killed or seriously injured on our roads.
“The programme includes a review of speed limits between Paeroa and Waihi and is expected to happen in the next six months.”
The work is happening as part of the Safe Networks programme, which will rapidly deliver proven safety interventions and safe and appropriate speeds on high-risk routes across New Zealand, Mr Campbell said.
‘Just coming out on the road is deadly. It’s incredible there hasn’t been more crashes. There’s got to be something done about it.
KAREN DRAKE Owner of The Talisman Cafe and Crafts
Businesses in the Karangahake Gorge such as the Waikino Hotel are calling for the 80km/h speed limit to be lowered.