Speed limit cut on Oropi Rd after lives lost

By Michele McPherson

Two community petitions have succeeded in lowering speed limits in key areas of Oropi, including a stretch of road on which an horrific crash killed two people this year.
Tauranga City Council has lowered the limit by 20km/h on the lower 2km of Oropi Rd after receiving a petition organised by Michele Winchester from the Renner Park Golf Club.
The petition, signed by 67 people, said the double fatality showed what a dangerous stretch of road it had become between the roundabout with State Highway 29 to well past the Oropi Service Station. Traffic needed to be slowed.
The double fatality on January 11 involved a collision between a light truck and a motorcycle coming the other way, the driver and the rider dying at the scene.
Mrs Winchester said the fatal crash had an effect on the whole community and stopped everyone in their tracks.
"A lot of people that came down to the golf club were aware that the speed limit was too high and were aware that a lot of drivers were speeding. The accident brought things to a head."
Mrs Winchester said the crash happened within direct view of the club and she arrived about 10 minutes after it happened. "It was a real shocker."
A part-owner of the golf club business, Geoff Winchester, who helped gather signatures, said the lower end of Oropi Rd down to the roundabout was not a country road any more and had become very busy with the Cheyne Rd intersection, the club, John's Produce, and school buses dropping off and picking up children.
"The road was built a long time ago and it's not that good."
The council responded this week by lowering the 100km/h speed limit between the roundabout and Phillips Drive to 80km/h after it met resistance from the New Zealand Transport Agency to a proposed limit of 70km/h.

The new limit takes effect on August 1.
The agency opposed 70km/h on the basis that it was too big a reduction on current speeds and that 70km/h would need "positive speed management" by the council.
Council transportation operations manager Martin Parkes told the Bay of Plenty Times that there was no reason why the council could not review the 80km/h speed limit in a year's time.
The other successful petition was from 28 residents of Oropi Downs, a lifestyle subdivision.
Jan Booysen said the safety of children and pets were compromised by the absence of a residential speed limit of 50km/h. At the moment it was set at the open 100km/h speed limit.
Mr Booysen said that even though the sections were larger than an average Tauranga section, Oropi Downs was a rural-residential subdivision and safety was being compromised.
The council agreed to lower the speed limit to 50km/h on Phillips Drive and its two small side-roads. Domain Rd from State Highway 2 to 130m south of The Gardens Drive will also be lowered to 50km/h.
Meanwhile, Mr Parkes defended his recommendation to the council to lower the speed limit in all Mount Maunganui north from 50km/h to 30km/h. He opposed the suggestion from residents that the speed limit should stay at 50km/h for the cooler months of the year when there was less traffic.
Mr Parkes said chopping and changing the speed limit would cause confusion and that a 30km/h limit had worked well along the northern end of Marine Parade.
"We want to make the northern area of the Mount more pedestrian-friendly," Mr Parkes said.
He argued that a lot of people visited the Mount all year round, drawn to Mauao, the Hot Pools, the Main Beach and Pilot Bay.
"There is always a lot of activity - it is not just over the holiday period."
The council would monitor traffic to see whether the new limit performed as well as they hoped it would. Average speeds in the area were already around 35-36km/h and he would consider it a success if they got that average down by another 3-4km/h.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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