Speed to drop outside school

By Lin Ferguson, lin.ferguson@wanganuichronicle.co.nz

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Highway speed limits will be reduced to 70km/h during busy morning and afternoon periods outside Westmere School by the end of this year.

Whanganui MP Chester Borrows said, however, that the New Zealand Transport Agency process of getting the reduced limits established outside rural schools was always a "protracted bureaucratic process".

"It's the gazetting process that takes so long, unfortunately, because it means everyone has to wait so long," he said.

But by the end of the year the speed limit outside Westmere would be marked by an electronic sign, he said.

"During school drop-off and pick-up times, the speed limit will likely drop from 100km/h to 70km/h," he said.

The agency would also begin work with the Education Ministry, local councils and police to assess road-safety risk around all rural and semi-urban schools, and would be developing a High Risk Rural Schools Guide to further improve road safety at rural schools.

However, at Westmere School it was reassuring news for children, parents, and the wider Westmere community, Mr Borrows said.

Seven schools across the country were involved in the variable speed-limit trial, and another 16 were scheduled to be included by the end of 2013.

Westmere School had been asking the Wanganui District Council for some time to do something about traffic speeding past its grounds on the corner of Rapanui Rd and Francis Rd, Mr Borrows said.

Three illuminated signs would be installed - two in Rapanui Rd and the other in Francis Rd - warning motorists they were entering a 70km/h zone. The speed limit on both roads is usually 100km/h. The signs would cost about $25,000 in total, with 72 per cent of the cost carried by the agency, he said.

At Kai Iwi School on State Highway Three, checks by the agency showed traffic had slowed considerably, principal Alastair White saying earlier the slow-down had been remarkable, especially as it was a state highway.

When the signs first went up, it was as though there had been an accident down the road, because all the traffic had slowed right down, Mr White said.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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