The gloves are off as Horowhenua District Council starts talking tough with the NZ Transport Agency over dangerous roads described as "killing fields".
NZTA bosses and the Transport Minister were sent letters last week from the district council that demanded urgent action on the stretch of road amid fears more lives would be lost if speed limits were not lowered immediately.
Pressure is mounting on NZTA to do something to address the dangerous Queen Street - Arapaepae Road intersection immediately as crossing it has some locals fearing for their lives every day.
Patience wore thin at a council meeting last week to discuss the issue, to the point were Deputy Mayor Wayne Bishop said the community was threatening to take matters into their own hands by erecting their own speed signs.
"This is about saving lives. This is about the phone calls we get from people who are dead scared to cross that piece of road," he said.
Bishop said there was a groundswell of public opinion that was reaching a level where he supported a community that would erect temporary speed signs themselves. He supported the stance, if it moved NZTA to action.
He understood that it would be breaking the law, but he said the community he represented was running out of patience. Any money spent chasing prosecution would be better spent on roading, he said.
"We have to listen to the concerns of the community. The roads have been called killing fields," he said.
Bishop said he was tired of inaction and the seriousness of the situation demanded that consideration be given to erecting temporary speed restriction in an effort to save lives, rather than wait any longer for NZTA to act.
"I am sure that if speed restriction signs went up on that road NZTA would formally engage with us," he said.
Residents along the stretch of road near the Queen Street-Arapaepae Road intersection have long known how dangerous it is, with 43 crashes reported in recent years, with further accidents commonplace further north outside a popular vegetable shop.
Bishop said council should also demand a direct response from NZTA to where exactly the $40 million set aside for road safety in their Growth Policy Statement (GPS) would be spent.
"They say the number one issue is safety. We don't want a response in riddles," he said.
Councillor Bernie Wanden supported a community in their need for urgent action to save lives.
"The reality is that if they ignore us again we should do something ourselves," he said at the meeting.
The issue was brought as a late item to a full HDC meeting last week, weeks after council adopted its own strategy to lower speed limits district-wide outside the main highways.
At the meeting Council resolved to write directly to Minister of Transport Phil Twyford and to the Chair and Chief Executive Officer of NZTA urging immediate action and a direct response.
The request also asked NZTA to install a temporary 60km/h speed restrictions at Queen Street - Arapaepae Road intersection and further along the stretch of highway.
The letter included a timeline of a month, and would be addressed directly to NZTA bosses and the minister for fear of it being lost in the system.
Bishop said he still felt the final resolution was "watered down". He said traffic volumes were exceeding forecasts to the point where the current road and speed were unsafe.
"We have been asking for action since 2009," he said.
Councillor Ross Brannigan said recent improvements to roading south of the district was creating a bottle neck and said a strong message needed to be sent to central government.
"The reality is that the government has talked the talk, but they certainly aren't walking the walk," he said
"The completion of Transmission Gully and the Peka Peka to Ōtaki expressway is only going to increase the amount of traffic coming through this district, so we have to push NZTA and the government to do something, or more people are going to lose their lives. There's no doubt about that."
Mayor of Horowhenua Michael Feyen said there was a high level of frustration in the community about safety issues on state highways in Horowhenua and it was important for council to voice its concerns.
"NZTA has said there's a programme of up to $40 million of safety improvements for our district, but we haven't had any indication of what those improvements might be. For example, safety improvements to the Waitārere curves on State Highway 1 have been promised for nearly three years," he said.
Questions were asked of HDC roading services manager Kevin Peel at the meeting, who said State Highways were governed by NZTA and were out of HDC jurisdiction, and advised against officers erecting temporary speed signs.
"We would be breaking the law," he said.
Councillor Jo Mason said while it was a short timeframe "it's sending a message that we do have an expectation that something will change in the interests of the safety of drivers and pedestrians in our district".
Several residents spoken to by Horowhenua Chronicle who crossed the intersection more than once a day applauded HDC's stance, saying it was long overdue.
"They should try and cross it themselves. It is just so dangerous and the speed at which cars approach the intersection make it very hard to judge," one Queen Street East resident said.
"Some cars are turning, while others that are coming straight through are invisible behind them, and that's just coming from one direction. It has got increasingly worse over the years too."
"And there's so much traffic crossing the road now with increased housing and a popular walkway up the hills."
"You really take your life into your own hands every day."
NZTA itself rated the intersection as one of the Top 100 most dangerous intersections in New Zealand.