Make that all of SH1

The Northland Age - - Local News -

Kerik­eri busi­ness­man Peter Heath had dif­fi­culty be­liev­ing that, ac­cord­ing to As­so­ciate Min­is­ter of Trans­port Julie Anne Gen­ter, half of State High­way 1 be­tween Kaitaia and Wark­worth was not fit to be driven at ex­ist­ing speed lim­its, but yesterday it got worse.

The NZTA is now claim­ing that 87 per cent of ex­ist­ing speed lim­its around the coun­try are too high, and that only 5 per cent of what are now open roads are safe to be driven at 100km/h.

It ap­peared yesterday that the only North­land road that would qual­ify for 100km/h was SH1’s Ruakaka Straights.

The NZTA was call­ing for open road lim­its to be re­duced to 60-80km/h, and lim­its in ur­ban ar­eas to be re­duced to 30-40km/h, within the next three years.

Speed is cur­rently be­lieved by the NZTA to be a fac­tor in around 25 per cent of crashes.

Ear­lier Ms Gen­ter told Mr Heath that 49.3 per cent of SH1 be­tween Kaitaia and Wark­worth would come into the cat­e­gory of ‘dan­ger­ous,’ and would there­fore be sub­ject to a lower speed limit, al­though that would not be in­evitable. While speed re­duc­tions were pos­si­ble, depend­ing on the func­tion of the road, engi­neer­ing im­prove­ments that would make cur­rent speed lim­its safe would also be con­sid­ered by the NZTA.

Al­most 8 per cent of 6652km of other roads in North­land would fall into the‘dan­ger­ous’ cat­e­gory.

In re­sponse to a ques­tion re­gard­ing what work, if any, had been done to gauge the eco­nomic im­pact of re­duc­ing speeds on “dan­ger­ous” roads, Ms Gen­ter said the NZTA had con­sid­ered var­i­ous re­ports and re­search, travers­ing safety ben­e­fits, travel time costs, ve­hi­cle op­er­at­ing costs, air pol­lu­tion costs for cars, light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles and heavy com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles trav­el­ling at dif­fer­ent speeds, peo­ple’s will­ing­ness to com­ply with lower speed lim­its, mean op­er­at­ing speeds across the road net­work, and those parts of the road net­work that would gen­er­ate the great­est ben­e­fits in terms of re­duc­ing death and in­jury rates when speeds were re­duced to a “safe and ap­pro­pri­ate” level.

Mr Heath said the NZTA had al­ready ad­vised him, in re­sponse to an OIA re­quest, that it did not have in­for­ma­tion about ve­hi­cle speeds at the time of crashes, how­ever.

“How then does it jus­tify its claim that re­duc­ing the speed limit to 80km on half of SH1 travers­ing North­land will re­duce the num­ber of crashes?” he asked.

“As I un­der­stand it, with SH1 in its cur­rent state — i.e. with­out any ad­di­tional engi­neer­ing un­der­taken by NZTA — half of North­land’s main eco­nomic artery and prin­ci­pal road con­nec­tion to the rest of the coun­try would be sub­ject to a lower max­i­mum speed limit un­der the re­view al­ready be­ing con­ducted by the NZTA, along with an ad­di­tional 513km of other roads in North­land.”

He also wanted to know what pro­por­tion of the 165.8km of SH1 be­tween Kaitaia and Wark­worth that had been as­sessed by the NZTA as in the top 10 per cent of dan­ger­ous roads was ‘fix­able’ via engi­neer­ing work, and what pro­por­tion was likely to sim­ply have a max­i­mum limit of 80km/h “slapped on it.”

The open road limit on the Awanui Straight is cur­rently 100km/h, but ac­cord­ing to the NZTA that is too fast for safety.

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