A review of speed limits between Westmere and Whanganui is music to the ears of Whanganui deputy mayor Jenny Duncan.
New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has announced a proposal to change the existing State Highway 3 (SH3) 70km/h speed limit to 50km/h through Virginia Heights between Turere Pl and Tirimoana Pl, and a reduction of the speed limit from 100km/h down to 80km/h from just north of the Tirimoana Pl and SH3 (Great North Rd) intersection out to Blueskin Rd.
• Whanganui council asks for highway speed review
• Castlecliff Beach and roads surrounding Westmere School in Whanganui get speed limit changes
• Speed humps installed on Polson St, Whanganui to improve safety for Castlecliff School pupils
• Whanganui District Council to continue push for State Highway 3 speed change
Duncan had been appealing to the agency for speed reductions for some time, along with her former council colleague, the late Ray Stevens.
Stevens, who died suddenly in February, owned the service station at the intersection of State Highway 3 and Rapanui Rd and witnessed numerous close calls and a number of serious accidents from his vantage point.
"On average, I see one near-miss every day," he told the Chronicle last year.
Duncan said Stevens would be rapt to know that the issue was finally being addressed and said although he could be "crotchety" at times, he was deeply concerned for the welfare of others.
"I do miss him," she said.
Stevens often took on the role of comforting people shaken by close calls at his garage.
Although Duncan's own suggestion to NZTA was to eliminate the 70km/h limit altogether and impose a 50km/h limit from Tirimoana Pl, she was pleased with the agency's proposal.
Best of 2019: High demand for homes in Tirimoana Pl subdivision
Families go crazy for colour while getting out and active
'We just call it downright theft' - Ken Mair on land loss
"I'm pleased that the 50km restriction proposal will end north of Tirimoana, taking in the entire built-up area of Great North Rd," Duncan said.
"This area is only going to get busier with development and the proposal is sensible and overdue."
Duncan said the 80km/h speed limit proposal was also welcome.
"I wasn't expecting this but am extremely pleased it's part of the proposal.
"I strongly encourage residents in the area to submit in support of both proposals."
Duncan said a number of residents in the area had been unfairly restricted in their development plans because of the existing speed limits.
DML Construction boss Keryn Amon also welcomed the news, having developed and recently sold 16 properties at his Tirimoana Pl subdivision.
Amon said he had also witnessed a number of near-misses while driving the stretch of road and is a member of the Facebook group Safety Campaign For Great North Road Whanganui.
"I feel I need to speak out because, otherwise, I'll be adding to the problem by creating more traffic," he said.
NZTA director of regional relationships Emma Speight said the proposals were intended as an effort to save lives and prevent serious injuries from crashes along the road.
"We are proposing lower speed limits to make the road safer for everyone who uses it.
"Between 2009 and 2018, there were 21 crashes on this road. Two people died and three people were seriously injured."
Speight said the agency recognised that Whanganui was growing, and the way the road was used had changed.
"It's a residential area with more development planned.
"The current speeds are no longer safe or right for the road. We know the intersection at Rapanui Rd is a concern for many people."
NZTA is now formally asking for submissions from stakeholders and the public about the proposed speed limit changes.
"Before we make a decision, we want to hear from people who live along this road or use it. The community has already been instrumental in getting us to this point, with local residents calling for speeds to be reduced.
"We'd like to thank them for their advocacy and encourage people to have their say on what we've proposed and let us know if there is anything else we should consider when making a decision."
Formal consultation on the proposed changes closes on December 16.
To make a submission or to find out more visit nzta.govt.nz