Whangarei motorists should watch out for a new speed limit at Maunu between Silverstream and Austins roads, but the reduction can't come soon enough for residents of the busy stretch of state highway.

The speed limit on the residential 2.7km stretch of State Highway 14 will be reduced from 70km/h to 60km/h from tomorrow.

Sciadopity's Garden Centre owner Peter Ruddell, who subdivided the land there and developed the adjacent Maunu Village complex, said the NZ Transport Agency had been promising to drop the speed limit from 70km to 60km for five years.

"It's about time, it's only four and a half years late," Mr Ruddell said.


When the Maunu Village development was put through its consent process, Mr Ruddell said his company presented an NZTA report as evidence the speed limit was going to be lowered. Consent to build the complex had partly hinged on that speed limit.

With increased heavy traffic coming into Whangarei via SH14 and two schools along the same stretch of road, residents and regular road users had long identified the need to reduce speed, Mr Ruddell said.

"This is a residential road before it's a highway," he said.

In the past five years there have been 23 crashes there: One involved serious injury and five involved minor injuries. Excess speed was the cause of 17 per cent of those crashes, the NZTA reported.

The agency's Northland journey manager, Jacqui Hori-Hoult, said lowering the speed limit on the busy corridor was part of a nationwide strategy to improve road safety.

"It's the main road access to the hospital and there are extensive improvements under way to the SH14/1 intersection," Ms Hori-Hoult said.

Meanwhile, traffic speed leading into that corridor is already limited to stop-start at times by the roadworks at the Western Hills Drive and Maunu Rd intersection (SH1 and SH14).

The agency said work to widen the road and provide free turning lanes was expected to be completed by the end of April.