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Speed management: no sign of a turnaround

Despite pleas from a mayor and the local MP, those hoping for a reversal of Wairarapa’s SH2 speed reductions shouldn’t hold their breath.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced on Monday that Waka Kotahi NZTA’s highway speed management plan would significantly narrow to focus on the most dangerous 1 per cent of state highways.

But neither the Ministry of Transport nor Waka Kotahi can confirm if this announcement will mean anything for Wairarapa, where three open road stretches of SH2 had their speed limits controversially lowered to 80kmh earlier this year.

The Prime Minister also said Waka Kotahi must change its consultation process when considering speed restrictions. But the consultation reform comes too late for Wairarapa’s speed review consultation, in which Waka Kotahi did not make one change to its plans, despite receiving over 1300 submissions.

Local MP Kieran McAnulty shares the frustration of locals who feel the transport agency had ignored their feedback.

“Waka Kotahi have statutory independence, which means ministers can’t interfere in specific decisions, but today’s decision by Cabinet sends them a clear message that taking on board public feedback must be a key part of decision making,” he said.

A spokesperson for Waka Kotahi said in response to Monday’s announcement that the agency would reprioritise its future speed reviews to focus only on the highest-risk sections of highways, along with some changes near schools and marae.

The Times-Age asked Waka Kotahi if the speed-review reprioritisation would affect Wairarapa.

The spokesperson said it was awaiting guidance from the Ministry of Transport on which specific stretches of road it would review.

The Times-Age asked the Ministry of Transport [MoT] if the speed-review reprioritisation would affect Wairarapa.

An MoT spokesperson said it was considering whether changes were needed to the speed management rule to give effect to the announcement.

The MoT spokesperson added that Waka Kotahi would review the state highway speed management plan to prioritise the highest-risk state highways.

Neither response clarified whether the recently lowered speed limits on the open road sections of SH2 between Masterton and Featherston would be
up for reconsideration.

Meanwhile, McAnulty and Masterton mayor Gary Caffell said they hoped Waka Kotahi would reconsider the SH2 speed review in the wake of the announcement.

McAnulty said he supported safety measures in towns, outside schools, and the new roundabouts but thinks the Greytown to Featherston stretch should have remained at 100kmh.

Caffell said he does not believe the stretches of SH2 south of Carterton would come under the 1 per cent threshold.

“While we acknowledge that the final decision rests with Waka Kotahi, not with ministers, we believe they should now take the opportunity to reconsider,” Caffell said.

“There is a window there which gives them the chance to do just that, and we are urging them to go down that path.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. Road to Zero is a complete fantasy. To get anywhere near this would require the removal of the incompetent drivers being at least 50% of those currently licensed. Licensing is yet another area that has been dumbed down

  2. Realistically Featherston to Masterton Highway should be 110 kph as it’s basically straight roads and generally light traffic

Comments are closed.

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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