The NZ Transport Agency has announced formal consultation on the speed limit through the South Canterbury township of Burkes Pass, the entrance to the Mackenzie Country.
Residents and the Mackenzie District Council have been calling for a speed review in Burkes Pass for some time, concerned at the speed people have been travelling on State Highway 8, and the risk this poses to pedestrians and other road users.
Jim Harland, Director of Regional Relationships for the Transport Agency, says that the Agency has recently been having further discussions with residents as well as with the Council, the police and local businesses about the speed limit in the town.
“We agree that the current limit is not safe. We are proposing to reduce it from 80km/h down to 60km/h to improve safety, especially for the pedestrians who cross the highway.”
Burkes Pass has commercial activities on both sides of the road, and it is a popular stopping point for tourists travelling on SH8, says Mr Harland. “Many people stop to visit the historic church, shops or to make use of the public toilets. With the township located on a curve in the road, sightlines are reduced for both pedestrians and drivers pulling onto the highway.”
There was a call by some residents to reduce the speed even further, down to 50km/h. While this was considered by the Transport Agency, it was not deemed appropriate, Mr Harland says. “The roadside environment with relatively low levels of commercial development and the approach into Burkes Pass does not currently support reducing the speed lower than 60km/h,” says Mr Harland. “Speed limits need to relate to the road environment so that drivers slow down as they perceive the situation has changed.”
Formal public consultation on the proposed changes to the speeds in Burkes Pass will run from 21 October to 4 November 2019. Further information and online options to make submissions on these proposals can be found on www.nzta.govt.nz/canterbury-speed-reviews
The speed limits through Tekapo are also in the process of being reviewed. The current and planned significant growth of the town makes this a more complex review. The Agency is therefore gathering additional technical information, including data on the volume and speed of traffic in the township, as well as the location and crossing behaviour of pedestrian activity. This information, together with the recent community and stakeholder feedback received, will help inform proposals for the speed limits which will then go to public consultation.
The NZ Transport Agency is currently identifying roads where reviewing speed limits could make a big difference in preventing deaths and serious injuries, and where communities are calling for change. These speed reviews are part of the Transport Agency’s Safe Network Programme which aims to save up to 160 deaths and serious injuries every year across New Zealand’s highest risk state highways and local roads.
Further information and an online option to make a submission can be found on www.nzta.govt.nz/canterbury-speed-reviews
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