A big bang, houses shaking and then silence. Last Thursday, a man was taken to hospital after a crash that shook the surrounding houses at the corner of Iles Rd and Selwyn Rd just before 10am. This was enough to scare residents in the area to speak up about the growing concerns of the high speed and rapidly growing traffic down their once quiet streets. Cira Olivier reports.
Some Lynmore residents are fearing for their safety as they say traffic woes on Te Ngae Rd are pushing more motorists down their once-quiet suburban streets, turning them into main roads.
Residents on Iles and Selwyn Rds have spoken up about their traffic and speed concerns after two people were injured, one seriously, in a two-vehicle crash on Iles Rd last week.
They fear their children could be hit as more cars use the suburban side streets to avoid congestion on Te Ngae Rd.
However, Rotorua Lakes Council said while the volume of traffic had increased by 7 per cent, this was in line with suburban growth.
The council confirmed it had received requests to review the speed limit along Tarawera Rd, and one about speed and volume on Selwyn Rd.
Selwyn Rd resident Kat Laugesen said she feared it was just a matter of time before a child was hit.
Laugesen, a home-based educator, has four toddlers at her home on any given day during the week.
She said due to the congestion on Te Ngae Rd, it was faster for people to turn down Brent Rd, on to Selwyn Rd and then right on to Tarawera Rd.
And more people were cottoning on to this with 5pm traffic seeping into the neighbourhood streets, she said.
"What if the accident [last week] was two hours earlier while kids were on their way to school? That's very scary," she said.
She said cars were pushing in from Te Ngae Rd that would not normally go that route.
"People that are coming through definitely aren't doing 50km/h," she said.
"I'm concerned with the speed in the streets ... there's a lot of children in the community," she said.
Her property was on the bend of Selwyn Rd and she said "if people don't take that bend properly, they could end up in our house".
Adding to her worries of the building traffic was a culvert which ran under Selwyn Rd and her property which she said had caused ongoing issues.
Last April a car parked between her house and the neighbour's lawn had sunk into a sinkhole after flooding and she feared the road would be next.
However Rotorua Lakes Council infrastructure group manager Stavros Michael said there was nothing structurally wrong with the culvert.
He said there were plans to make it bigger and the engineering design work was under way.
The sink hole was the result of ground saturation from heavy rain, a pipe join bursting due to the volume of rainwater, and the van being illegally parked on the berm above the culvert, Michael said.
Resident Carla McIlroy said she had seen cars speed down the road and was worried her grandchildren would be hit.
"At night, it's like a main road," she said.
Iles Rd resident Charles Edwards said "lots of hoons" sped down the street, and the road had become a noisy "major road".
Michael said traffic volume had increased about 7 per cent in the past two years but that was in line with suburban growth.
He said Tarawera Rd's speed limit would be reviewed when the Whakarewarewa Forest developments and work on the Tarawera Rd and Te Ngae Rd intersection were finished.
Michael said the council did not believe interventions such as speed bumps would be an appropriate solution to deter individual driver behaviour.
"It may, in fact, have the potential to do more harm than good. Any future safety measures will be carefully considered in terms of appropriateness for the area."
He said there was no evidence residential speed limits of 50km/h on Selwyn and Iles Rd were being exceeded.
Michael said the volume of traffic on Te Ngae Rd was causing congestion and the NZ Transport Agency was working to improve the Eastern Corridor to reduce this.
Te Ngae Rd is a state highway and under the control of NZTA. Traffic management during construction would be the responsibility of NZTA and its appointed contractor.
There had been no requests for state highway traffic to be diverted on to the council's local roads.
Acting senior sergeant Joseph Cairns said police were rostered to patrol the areas feeding off Te Ngae Rd as and when required.
Police had "no tolerance for those who use public places as race tracks - no one likes anti-social road-users", he said.
"Police will continue to do everything we can to dampen down any illegal driving activity whenever and wherever we come across it."
Council process to change speed
- Calculate the road's Risk Rating from a five-score scale which looks at eight features including hazards, intersection numbers, traffic volumes, roadside hazards.
- Calculate a roads safety score based on crash history.
-Calculate the roads safe and appropriate speed, which considers the scores from the above measures. This speed is the recommended speed limit for the road.
-Chance to change the roads risk rating by making engineering improvements.
-Engage in community consultation and consultation with other key stakeholders including AA, Police, and NZTA.
- Final decision to change a speed limit is via adoption of a Bylaw voted into effect by the elected members of Council.