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Ask Phoebe: Wildflowers gone forever from motorway

By Phoebe Falconer

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The wildflowers struggled alongside the motorway and succumbed to weeds. Photo / Paul Estcourt
The wildflowers struggled alongside the motorway and succumbed to weeds. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Q. Whatever happened to all the beautiful wildflowers that used to adorn Auckland's motorway network? Some of our members have noted that the old wildflower sites are chemically sprayed out. Are we to assume that this is a cheaper or more desirable option by the respective caretakers of the network? With the Rugby World Cup next year, how nice it would be for the thousands of overseas visitors to see our wildflowers blooming once more.

Sue Gripton, Kotuku Garden Club, Omokoroa, Bay of Plenty.

A. Sadly, the wildflowers were not as long for this world as initially hoped.

When they were first planted in 1998 it was envisaged that they would improve the appearance of the motorways and reduce maintenance costs and the time that crews would spend tending to the wildflower gardens.

The flowers did not seed well because of poor ground conditions and because it was not their natural environment. Over time the beds became infested with brassicas and other unwanted weeds, the areas looked untidy for most of the year and proved expensive to look after, which meant that the gardening crews spent more time exposed to motorway traffic.

But before everyone rushes out to gather cabbages and brussels sprouts and turnips (all members of the brassica family), let me warn that the decision has been taken to end the experiment, and the flower beds have all been sprayed to control the weeds.

The weeds will be replaced by slow-growing grasses, to keep the areas looking at least neat and tidy.

Dale Logan, maintenance manager for the Auckland Motorway Alliance, would like your garden club members to know that the AMA is committed to a visual improvement programme in time for the World Cup.

It has started with native plantings on the motorway banks at Ramarama as a trial.

Q. The top end of Selwyn Ave in Mission Bay has three speed limit signs on the corner in close proximity. One says 35km/h, one 40km/h (school zone) on the opposite side of the road, and one says 50km/h (school zone ends). There have been numerous accidents here, more since the confusing and contradictory signage. We have tried to contact the council, but received no response. Obviously schoolchildren are on the footpaths here daily, but when the speed limit is 35km/h around this bend, why put up others that state 40 and 50km/h? The 35km/h hour sign was the only one originally. We were told the signs are related to school zone legislation. Can you help sort this out please?

Warwick Henderson, Selwyn Ave neighbourhood watch group.

A. The 40km/h and 50km/h signs were erected as part of a nationally set standard, to define the school zone speed limit. They must be set out in this way to make the zone enforceable.

The chevron sign with 35km/h is not a speed limit but a suggested speed for negotiating this corner safely.

The police have visited the site, and did not have an issue with the signs. The crash records for the past five years show no incidents at this corner, and no recorded evidence of crashes because of the signs. There may have been some non-injury accidents which were not reported, and the council would have no record of these.

The council has agreed to take another look to see if some of the signs can be relocated.

- NZ Herald

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