National Party leader Chris Luxon said his party would restore the speed limit on SH2 between Masterton and Featherston to 100kmh if elected.
Luxon made the latest announcement standing at a Tauwharenīkau roadside yesterday alongside National’s transport spokesperson, Simeon Brown, and Wairarapa candidate Mike Butterick.
National is promising to overturn recent speed reductions, get rid of “unnecessary road cones and temporary speed limits,” and design new highways for a 110kmh limit.
“When you look at the very straight stretch of SH2, which has gone from 100kmh down to 80kmh, it just makes no sense,” Luxon said.
“It’s an incredible source of frustration, and even the current MP [Kieran McAnulty], who’s a senior cabinet minister and Associate Minister for Transport said it was a stupid idea, but he couldn’t get them [Waka Kotahi NZTA] to change it either.”
McAnulty opposed the speed limit reduction between Greytown and Featherston but failed to convince Waka Kotahi to change its decision.
Labour leader Chris Hipkins also acknowledged on Friday that – in his opinion – Waka Kotahi was wrong to reduce Wairarapa’s SH2 speed limit to 80kmh and suggested that the transport agency “take another look at that.”
But even if those politicians are opposed to that decision, Waka Kotahi’s speed-setting was established by Labour’s own Road to Zero transport strategy, which aims to reduce the number of fatal and serious crashes on New Zealand roads by 40 per cent by the year 2030.
Hipkins narrowed the scope of the Road to Zero speed reductions in March, directing Waka Kotahi to focus only on the most dangerous 1 per cent of state highways.
National promises to “repeal and replace” the rules governing how Waka Kotahi sets speed limits, expecting the new rules will reverse “blanket reductions” on rural highways across New Zealand.
It wants Waka Kotahi to undertake cost-benefit analyses for speed reviews, which account for the economic impacts of increased travel times and the views of local communities.
This is not a current requirement – Waka Kotahi did not undertake a cost-benefit analysis for the SH2 Wairarapa speed review, and it did not change any decisions despite receiving over 1300 submissions from members of the public during the consultation, most of whom opposed the 80kmh open road limit.
Luxon said slow highways were slowing down productivity and economic activity.
“It’s important that people can get around easily and appropriately. The better way to do that is to build better, safer roads,” he said.
National wants schools to have variable speed limits, which slow down only at pick-up and drop-off times and wants to increase the speed limits on the Kapiti Expressway, Transmission Gully, and the Pūhoi to Warkworth Motorway to 110kmh.
The party also wants to restore local road speed limits from 30kmh to 50kmh, except where that would be unsafe.
Luxon said National will also make contractors minimise their use of cones and temporary speed limit reductions at maintenance sites when there are no workers on-site.
“We need to make sure that people can get moving around the country.”