At least 300 submissions about the potential reduction of speed limits in the Western Bay of Plenty change what is planned.
The NZ Transport Agency last month asked for submissions on a proposed change of speed limits on key Western Bay roads including State Highway 2 between Tauranga and Katikati - considered one of the most dangerous roads in New Zealand.
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Between 2009 and 2018, 27 people died, and 77 people were seriously injured in crashes on this stretch of SH2, which has 43 intersections and more than 100 driveways that access the road.
The transport agency plans to drop the speed limit by as much as 40km/h in some areas.
About 300 online submissions have been made but the number of posted or emailed submissions will not be known until after the call for feedback closes at 5pm today.
Director of regional relationships Ross I'Anson said reviewing a speed limit also involved establishing crash history, average vehicle speed, urban development and other activity on the road.
When asked how many submissions would be needed to prevent the proposed speed limits being established, I'Anson said the consultation was "not a vote".
"It is about seeking valuable local and community input so that we can consider wider factors and context into our decisions. The question we ask during consultation is whether there are any external factors we should consider."
Engagement with affected communities also helped the agency decide if lowering the speed limit was the best thing to do, where new speed limits might begin or end and if any other safety improvements such as better signs might be needed, I'Anson said.
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Crash survivor Tina Jennen did not think lowering the speed limit was the right answer and the Government needed to widen their scope.
Jennen narrowly survived a serious crash when an oncoming car crossed the centre line just south of Katikati on a January afternoon in 2017.
The recommendations to lower the speed limit on SH2 acknowledged that the Government understood the road was substandard - "not fit for purpose", she said.
Creating a safe, four-laned highway similar to the Tauranga Eastern Link was what the Government and transport agency should be focusing on, she said.
Jennen said she felt the Government was "wasting time" and money funding reports to justify their actions, or lack of action on SH2's safety.
The stretch of SH2 between Marshall and Plummers Point Rds was this year identified as the nation's second most dangerous road, with 1.4 fatalities per kilometre since 2000.
Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber said reducing speeds was understandable, he and other elected members were "bitterly concerned that the big issue of the road not being fit for purpose and the incredible concerns we have around the major intersections between Katikati and Tauranga on SH2 are not being addressed".
"They seem to think that by reducing the speed, they will solve the problems and we have trouble understanding that."
When these concerns were put to Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter she said SH2 was clearly a dangerous road "which is why the Government is prioritising $101 million for immediate safety upgrades to the highway".
The improvements include upgrading 26 intersections, new safety barriers and wider centre lines to avoid head-on crashes.
Changes to the speed limits were just one tool used to make certain stretches of the highway safer, she said
"Unsafe speed limits increase both the likelihood of crashes and severity of the outcome, regardless of what the cause is."
The proposal suggests reducing the speed from 100km/h and 90km/h between Katikati to Te Puna to 80km/h; 80km/h at Te Puna to 60km/h and 90km/h at Te Puna to 80km/h and 90km/h and 50km/h at Bethlehem to 50km/h.
Have your say
People can make a submission on the proposed changes by
- Downloading and completing the electronic feedback form from www.nzta.govt.nz/bop-speed-review
- Emailing bayofplenty.speed. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Picking up a submission form from a Western Bay of Plenty council office or library or call 0800 44 44 49 and NZTA will send you one.
- Feedback closes 5pm today.