Signs up, speed limit change in force

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JOHN.COSGROVE@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

After several years of campaigning, the speed limit through Waihola has been officially lowered to 50kmh.

Downer contractors took the opportunity of nearby road works and speed reductions on State Highway 1 to change the speed signs at either end of the township last Monday.

The speed limit drops from 70kmh to 50kmh for a 1km stretch through Waihola from north of Titri Rd to south of Castle St.

Waihola Looking Forward chairman Stu Michelle said he was ‘‘absolutely ecstatic’’ about the change.

Following three years of work to bring it about, Mr Michelle said the community was 100% behind the reduction.

‘‘I can categorically say everyone has been very supportive.’’

After extensive public consultation in 2019, and 158 submissions largely supportive of the lower speed limit, the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) announced the speed review as part of its Safe Network Programme.

The programme aims to deliver ‘‘proven safety interventions’’ on the highest risk intersections and roads across New Zealand.

NZTA regional relationships director Jim Harland said the programme would help prevent people getting killed or seriously injured.

‘‘In 2018, the average daily traffic count through Waihola was 7500, up 15% on 2014. The local residents’ association campaigned for several years for a lower 50kmh speed limit and everyone we spoke to supported that,’’ Mr Harland said.

NPD Waihola service station owner Lindsay Anderton said it was great to see the workers out changing the signs.

‘‘It’s great news.

‘‘The population here has a lot of young families and older people and, with most living on the other side of the road, they have all had to cross the road to get to shops and the lakeside while the traffic speeds past.’’

The intersection in the middle of the township had also been a concern as it fed a lot of traffic off tourist trail the Southern Scenic Route on to SH1, Mr Anderton said.

‘‘The lower speeds now will really help travellers merging on to the highway.’’

Wendy Hellyer, of Milton, said she too was pleased, as it made her regular trips to the lake with her grandchildren a lot easier.

‘‘People really didn’t slow down as they passed through Waihola.’’

Residents Dianne and Lynn Odell agreed, saying that, as older people, it had been challenging to get from A to B.

‘‘Waihola has grown so much in recent years and is now a much bigger place. So to see the signs up and the speed lowered means it’s a lot safer to cross the road now for us older folk and those with children.’’