The aftermath of a crash on the Fitzherbert St in January. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

HAYLEY GASTMEIER
hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz

Relief from speeding cars and trucks could be close for Featherston residents sick and tired of accidents and near misses.

A spectacular crash last month on Fitzherbert St, part of State Highway 2 running through the town, has reopened the debate about whether the 70kmh speed limits at each end of Featherston are too high.

And the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has finally signalled a speed review is “likely”.

Multiple submissions in the past have called for the speed limit to be reduced to 50kmh, and Hayden Gibbes, who lives at the northern end of Fitzherbert St, backs the idea.

“It seems crazy that it’s a main residential street and it’s 70kmh.”

He said there were about two dozen other residential properties in that zone, as well as two busy churches and a new subdivision in development.

“A lot of traffic is going both ways, it just seems ludicrous… and even though it says 70kmh, they don’t slow down, they’re just gunning it through there.”

A few weeks back, both his and his neighbour’s sections became casualties in a crash.

“We were at home having lunch and we had just finished and I walked out onto the porch.

“I heard a huge bang.”

A speeding vehicle went “flying over the top” of his mate’s parked car and “hit a timber phone pole”.

“It smashed through that, and through the neighbour’s fence and cabbage trees, and into the middle of the front yard.

“The parked car went into the front of my property.”

In Greytown and Carterton the speed limit drops to 50kmh as soon as SH2 hits the town boundaries.

“Why is it different for Featherston?”

Mr Gibbes and his partner have lived in the property for about 17 months and in that time have witnessed “a few near misses” and “a couple of fender benders”.

South Wairarapa District Council (SWDC) infrastructure services group manager Mark Allingham confirmed the council had received “a lot of submissions” to have speeds at both ends of Fitzherbert St reduced.

“It just periodically keeps popping up.”

Featherston Community Board chairwoman Robyn Ramsden said she didn’t feel safe using the intersections within the 70kmh zone at the southern end of town.

Following a near miss with her children in the car, she changed her regular driving route home.

“We go further into town away from our house because it’s not safe to turn in the 70kmh zone because people do not do 70kmh down there.”

Mark Owen, NZTA’s Regional Transport Systems Manager, said new national guidelines for determining speed limits had recently been introduced, and NZTA was working with councils around the country to ensure that current speed limit reviews were consistent with these guidelines.

“At the northern end of Featherston’s urban environment on SH2, land use has also recently changed and this will likely result in a review of the current 70kmh speed limit against these new guidelines.

“Any proposed changes will need to be consulted with all relevant interested stakeholder groups, such as police, the Automobile Association, Road Transport Association, SWDC and local community representatives.”

If there was support for changes, NZTA would consider this in accordance with the Speed Management Guidelines.

“If any changes are proposed, we will need to align these with the adjoining local roads, to ensure road consistency and safety.

“The same principles will also take into account the current 70kmh speed limit on SH 2 at the southern end of Featherston.”