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SH2: Life in the slower lane

Waka Kotahi NZTA is dropping the speed limit on all the 100kmh stretches of SH2 between Masterton and Featherston to a new permanent limit of 80kmh.

The speed reductions on the three stretches of SH2 from Featherston-Greytown, Greytown-Carterton, and Carterton-Masterton will come into effect in two weeks, on Friday, 27 January.

There will be additional cuts to existing speed limits introduced at the same time.

The 70kmh stretch on the Solway side of the Waingawa Bridge will drop to 50kmh, as will the two 70kmh zones at either end of Featherston, while the central parts of Featherston, Greytown, and Carterton will have their speed limits reduced from 50 kmh to 40 kmh.

Waka Kotahi first signalled its intention to lower the speed limit on SH2 between Masterton and Featherston in its 2018 Speed Management Guide, which described 80kmh as “a safe and appropriate speed” for this part of the highway.

Waka Kotahi said the changes are being made because of a high number of crashes on the stretch.

An OIA request to Waka Kotahi has revealed there were 554 crashes on the road between January 2010 and August 2021.

Of the crashes, 371 did not result in any injuries, 146 resulted in minor injuries, 32 resulted in serious injuries, and five resulted in deaths. Travel speed contributed to just five of 37 serious or fatal crashes.

But decreasing the speed limits is just one part of Waka Kotahi’s Wairarapa road safety improvements.

The transport agency is also installing three roundabouts, a truck turn-around facility, and a flush median between Carterton and Masterton.

It will also widen the road and install new signage and flexible safety barriers.

It also plans on installing 21 raised pedestrian crossings along SH2 between Masterton and Featherston.

Waka Kotahi regional relationships director Emma Speight said 1300 members of the public and community organisations responded to the proposed changes during a consultation period in 2021.

“I want to thank the members of the public for their feedback and input on the new speed limits. It has been greatly appreciated,” Speight said.

Despite the high number of public submissions, Waka Kotahi made no changes to the proposal after the consultation period.

Every speed limit reduction proposed for public consultation will become law in two weeks.

The changes are a part of Road to Zero, Waka Kotahi’s aspirational aim to entirely eliminate deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand roads.

Although the new speed limits will come into force before the end of this month, temporary speed limits will remain in place at the current roundabout construction areas between Carterton and Masterton until the work is finished.

Contractors will then replace the temporary speed signs with ones displaying the new, lower limits.

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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