Petition calls on NZTA to reduce speed limit

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A community petition containing more than 500 signatures is raising the profile of the cause but is very unlikely to get the speed limited reduced on State Highway 77 heading west out of Methven before 2024 at the earliest.

Ashburton District Western Ward councillor Liz McMillan started the petition last month and presented it to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency regional relationships director James Caygill at a recent council meeting.

She explained to him the community safety concerns about the 100kmh limit, which runs for around 300m past a couple of new subdivisions and the new Opuke hot pools.

A makeshift walkway also runs alongside the road and links with the popular Methven Walkway track.

Ms McMillan asked Mr Caygill what needed to be done to get the speed limit lowered before 2024.

He told her there was no easy answer.

Speed rules are changing nationally and that change would make it easier to alter speeds and move away from considering corridors to considerations of the whole network, he said.

It would make discussions possible and easier at a regional level and could speed things up.

“Your stretch of road is not as bad as the worst in Mid Canterbury.

“It’s not a good one, it ranks high, but just not high enough.”

Ms McMillan said it astounded and frustrated her that a sign could not be moved 300m down the road.

Mr Caygill said Waka Kotahi was bound by the current legal process.

Councillor Rodger Letham said it beggared belief that Waka Kotahi could not just go out, make a common sense decision and put a new sign up.

He could do it in around 30 minutes.

He was told that it took around one year from the start of the process to a change in speed limits.

The process included two consultation process and engineering assessments.

Waka Kotahi intends taking a look at the makeshift walking track that runs out of town to the hot pools.

-By Mick Jensen