Allison is a digital reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times

Variable speed limit outside Tauriko School

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Tauriko School principal Suzanne Billington near SH29 outside her school at peak pick up time. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK
Tauriko School principal Suzanne Billington near SH29 outside her school at peak pick up time. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK

Education and roading authorities have agreed on a plan to tackle the traffic risk outside Tauriko School amid mounting fears of a serious crash in the area.

A speed limit of 40km/h during peak drop off and pick up hours is to be introduced on the stretch of State Highway 29 outside the school

The speed limit could be in place as early as the beginning of next year and the Ministry of Education was also looking at leasing farmland next door for a car park.

Tauriko School principal Suzanne Billington was thrilled all the meetings and planning had finally come to fruition.

At present it was unsafe with the amount of traffic and trucks travelling past at 70km/h.

The idea of a car park next door would also help immensely.

"At the moment once our car park fills up, parents drive in and they stay in their car and they funnel through three lanes while four staff on duty put kids into cars. So the cars keep rolling through but it's hard to move a large amount of traffic at a time."

The school had about 50% of its students taking the bus, either home or to a stop off in the Lakes where parents could more easily pick their kids up not on a busy highway.

NZTA conducted traffic surveys during Tauriko School's start and finish times, finding 466 cars entered and exited the school in the morning and 290 cars in the afternoon.

Senior safety engineer Adam Francis said the variable speed sign was still in the consultation phase but if it was successful signs, similar to those outside Pyes Pa School and Brookfield School, could be in place by early 2017.

"The variable speed will reduce the likelihood of any crashes occurring adjacent to the school during the start and finish times.

"Should a crash occur the lower speed will also have the potential of reducing serious injury," Mr Francis said.

Ministry of Education head of education infrastructure service Jerome Sheppard said the ministry welcomed the NZTA's plan.

"As changes to the road are expected to be several years away, we have agreed to look at whether land can be leased near the school for use as a carpark and as a drop-off and pick-up zone so that caregivers won't have to use the state highway," he said.

Tauranga City Council would be helping in the design of a new carpark.

Transport manager Martin Parkes said the plans made would help but schoolchildren, parents, teachers and people travelling through Tauriko would still need to be mindful of the dangers that exist on the busy section of highway.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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