A desperate plea from Horowhenua District Council to lower speed limits on State Highways to save lives has so far fallen on deaf ears.
The only action from the NZ Transport Agency has been to lower limits on a host of rural Horowhenua roads, a move that some considered unnecessary, with those changes effective from yesterday.
HDC sent a letter on July 4 to NZ Transport Agency and Minister of Transport Phil Twyford requesting immediate action on safety on State Highway I between Foxton and Manakau, and State Highway 57 (Arapaepae Road).
The letter was signed by both Horowhenua mayor Michael Feyen and CEO David Clapperton and said "we implore you to accept that the local communities have had enough and further delays to much-needed improvements are not an option".
Of particular concern was the Queen Street East — Arapaepae Road intersection, which one motorist spoken to by Horowhenua Chronicle said was "like playing Russian roulette each day".
"Our community is running the gauntlet every time they use this intersection," the letter said.
Some within the district, including HDC councillor Wayne Bishop, were so fed up waiting for action, the idea was mooted that the community should take matters into their own hands and erect road signs themselves.
Twyford responded by letter, acknowledging the dangers, and said he shared those same concerns, but his response gave no definite decision or timeline.
"NZTA has informed me that due to the need to secure funding for the construction requirements of the Ōtaki to north of Levin project from within the funding that is nationally available, they are currently investigating safety improvements that can be made in the short to medium term," he said,
Those improvements could mean a reduction in speed limit on the highway, median or side barriers at high-risk locations, rural roundabouts, or widened median areas and rumble strips.
"Any improvements would be subject to engagements, public consultation and funding," he said, and that NZTA would consult with HDC directly regarding safety improvements.
Instead, NZTA had since instructed HDC to lower limits on a host of other country roads from 80km to 60km, after a nationwide roading review into rural speed limits.
The original review sought to bring the limit on those roads from 100km to 80km.
Acting group manager Kevin Peel told HDC at a meeting last night he expected the original changes set down to be straight forward.
There were concerns during a public consultation process that on some roads 80km/h was too slow. Now some of those roads would be set at 60km/h.
Peel said NZTA took into account a range of factors when setting speed limits, including lane and road width, land use, nearby intersections, access density and traffic flow.
"It all goes into their calculator and it spits out a limit," he said.
Drivers should see new signs installed during the next two months and motorists were encouraged to take notice of those speed limit changes.
There were 22 Horowhenua roads due for a further chop in speed limit with those changes effective from September 12.
Those roads are: Albert Road, Buckley Road, Engles Road, Fairfield Road, Florida Road, Gladstone Road, Kaihinau Road, Kingston Road, Kuku East Road, Kukutauaki Road, McDonald Road, Paeroa Road, Tamatarau Road, Tangimoana Road, Vista Road, Wallace Loop Road, Wallace Road and Whakahoro Road, and the rural-residential roads Emma Drive, Jackson Road, Kristen Place and Twin Peaks Grove.