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A bad sign of the times

Newly introduced speed limits in Featherston will allow motorists to accelerate as they approach a school pedestrian crossing.

The 40kmh zone in central Featherston will end 45m west of the SH2/Lyon St intersection, meaning vehicles can speed up to to 50kmh right before reaching the pedestrian crossing, which connects Featherston School to the nearby playground and skatepark.

Principal of Featherston School Gina Smith said the placement of the 50kmh sign is “ridiculous”.

“I can’t understand it. That crossing is a dangerous area that Featherston School and St Teresa’s both use – we’ve had two or three kids nearly hit by cars on that crossing.

“Reducing the limit to 40kmh by the supermarket is fine, but letting traffic speed up again before the crossing is a huge safety issue,” Smith said.

Jennifer Grey’s shop, For the Love of Books, is close to the SH2/Fox St intersection.

She said the intersection is confusing and has poor driver visibility.

“I think it’s good they reduced the speed to 40kmh in the main town centre, but they didn’t think about where to end it. “It doesn’t make sense for drivers to speed up when there are so many children and elderly people who use that crossing,” Grey said.

Annelise Schroeder from the Featherston Community Board said she is pleased with the lower speed limit but thought it could be improved by extending the 40kmh zone to include the school crossing.

“This would help keep users of the skate park, playground, library, school and other pedestrians safer,” Schroeder said.

Waka Kotahi NZTA spokesperson Tara McMillan said the agency was aware of the school crossing issue but decided not to change it with the current SH2 safety changes.

“We identified the speed limit issue in September but decided to address it through the upcoming interim state highway speed management plan,” McMillan said.

That plan, due to be implemented from 2023 – 2027, is separate from the SH2 Masterton-Featherston safety improvements and proposes two 30kmh variable speed zones by Featherston School on SH2 and SH53.

McMillan said that if Waka Kotahi had included the Featherston School speed limit reduction in the current safety improvements, the project would have been delayed by the need for further consultation.

Despite being a 50kmh zone, the current safety improvements will see the school crossing rebuilt as a raised platform with an advisory speed of 25kmh.

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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