‘Playing chicken’ on SH1



Clinton residents have one request to all drivers: slow down.

Their next request is for the NZ Transport Agency to install a pedestrian crossing to help their children get to school.

The calls come not only from adults but schoolchildren as well.

Jess Delaney and her sister Dani have confronted speeding traffic for years.
“We had to get to the other side of the highway to go to school, so every day it was like playing chicken with the cars and trucks all speeding through our town,” Jess said.

“What we desperately need is a pedestrian crossing and better speed signage, because cars and trucks are going through here much too fast,” Dani said.

Clinton police officer Constable Andy Denny and Clutha district councillor for the Clinton ward Jo Thompson echoed their concerns.

“Drivers using State Highways 1 and 93 are just taking the 50kmh road signs for granted as they motor through the town day and night,” Mrs Thompson said.

“Just the other day, I was informed of a motorist being clocked at 89kmh in the town. Their excuse was that they thought the speed was 80 [kmh] there.

“There are 80 children at the school here and the numbers of speeding cars and trucks are increasing every year.”

Residents were sick and tired of the speeders, she said.

Discussions were held with police and the council to see what could be done.

“It’s a state highway, so it’s not a council problem.

‘‘It belongs to the NZTA, but when locals have approached them to see what can be done, they have been given a variety of excuses, which ranged from not enough residents to not enough money.”

Mrs Thompson said there was probably a formal process that had to be started with the NZTA to get it to look more closely at the Clinton situation.

“If it takes a petition, we will organise one. Every town seems to have a pedestrian crossing, so why not us?” Palmerston, in East Otago, has a similar situation to Clinton.
Located at the junction of two main highways connecting in the middle of the township, it has pedestrian crossings on both.

“It has been lucky that so far no-one has been killed by speeding motorists in the town, but everyone is concerned about the speed, even the local Lions offered to help fund one of those flashing speed indicator signs to alert motorists,” Mrs Thompson said.

But Clinton Lion president Jeff Moss said cost proved to be the sticking point.

“We are still prepared to help with some funding towards the cost of installing a speed indicator device (SID) like they have on the KV road off-ramp in Dunedin, but then we found out how expensive they were going to be,’’ Mr Moss said.

‘‘At over $7000 just for a tiny page-sized sign we had to think again.

“The NZTA have it all listed down just what you need to do to provide an SID and, for now, we will wait and see what happens to other options like speed enforcement.”
NZTA spokesman Frances Adank said concerned residents should contact the Regional Transport Committee, as councils and the NZTA worked together to prioritise safety issues in the district.