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Lower Saddle Rd speed limits mooted after crashes

An NZTA map indicating the proposed permanent speed limits for the Saddle Rd. GRAPHIC/SUPPLIED

Wairarapa commuters who have been using the Saddle Rd since the closure of State Highway 3 Manawatu Gorge will now get the chance to give feedback on its permanent speed limit.

Public consultation by the NZ Transport Agency began on Tuesday on the proposed permanent speed limits for Saddle Rd, Oxford Rd, Woodlands Rd and SH3.

Emergency speed limits were put in place in January last year after the gorge closure caused increased traffic flows on the road and a subsequent rise in crashes.

“As the emergency speed limits are due to expire, the Transport Agency is seeking feedback on the proposed permanent speed limits for this route,” Transport Agency Director Safety and Environment Harry Wilson said.

Since the closure of the gorge in April 2017, crashes along the route have increased by 88 per cent.

There have been 33 reported crashes, including one fatal crash and two serious injury crashes.

Before this, there were five reported crashes from 2013 to 2016.

Traffic volumes on Saddle Rd have increased from 150 to 5100 vehicles a day since the closure.

“Our priority is to make this a safer route so that everyone using it can get where they are going safely and reliably,” Wilson said.

“We want to make sure no one else loses their life or is seriously injured on these roads.”

The Transport Agency is consulting on proposed speed limits either side of the length of Saddle Rd within the Manawatu District in order to set permanent speed limits before the emergency speed limits expire.

The Manawatu District Council has consulted and set a 60kmh limit on the two kilometre length east of the Ashhurst Bridge.

It is proposed to make 80kmh the permanent speed limit for State Highway 3 from Woodville to Woodlands Rd, Woodlands Rd, Oxford Rd, and Saddle Rd from Hope Rd to Mangaatua Stream.

It also proposes to permanently lower the speed limit on Saddle Rd from Ashhurst to Mangaatua Stream to 60kmh.

Public consultation on the proposed speed limits will run until 4pm on Friday January 18.

Feedback can be submitted online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/saddleroad or by emailing [email protected]


  1. Sounds sensible until improvements can happen. People will always go over the limit, but this way it will no doubt do 80 kph, but if it’s 80 kph, they will do 100

  2. I feel the speed should not exceed 60 and it should be one way traffic over Saddle Road and one way return over Pahiatua Track.
    That would spread the wear to the raods and worry of travelling to and from Hawke’s Bay.

  3. 60k is frustratingly slow. You are unlikely to be able to pass anything except a stationary vehicle with a limit that low. I believe that the lower speed limit will be generally ignored . It’s pushing that social agenda again that the state knows best

  4. Stop lowering speed limits. If you can’t drive at 100km give your license back. The changed speed limits here in Richmond suck. Everyone going even slower now

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