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Safer highway speed limit confirmed for Port Chalmers

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Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has set a new and safer speed limit of 40km/h on SH88 through the main street of Port Chalmers to take effect from 23 October, replacing the current 50km/h limit.

The new limit covers 600 metres of highway from near Wickcliffe Terrace to the Beach Street rail crossing. Several technical reports and assessments were carried out to arrive at 40km/h as the safe and appropriate speed for this busy section of highway. This was the limit Waka Kotahi consulted on with the local community and its transport partners.

“For some time there been strong community support in Port Chalmers for a lower highway speed limit through the town, which was supported by the Dunedin City Council, Automobile Association and NZ Police,” says Waka Kotahi Director Regional Relationships Jim Harland. “We knew many local people were concerned about increasing traffic volumes and vehicle speeds in their town.”

The main safety concerns raised in the 220 submissions received were the many large trucks using this highway and increasing traffic volumes which  meant some elderly people and the young find it challenging crossing what is at times a busy highway. Another issue raised by submitters was the safety of many cruise ship passengers who are in the town’s main street from October to April in previous years.

Mr Harland say several submitters advocated strongly for a 30km/h speed limit and Waka Kotahi fully considered this. However, a number of factors ruled against it. The road environment and a count of pedestrians during a full 24-hour period found there were insufficient numbers in the area to support a 30km/h, 24/7 speed limit.

Waka Kotahi had to take into account that the highway is a key road freight route to a major port alongside the desire from the community to retain parking and not to have raised concrete platforms on SH88, which would be necessary to help reduce speed and encourage compliance.

“A 30km/h limit is designed for places where traffic and people can safely mingle in a calm, low speed traffic environment. To create this in Port Chalmers would require considerable engineering work such as reallocating road space, removing some parks and installing kerb build outs.

“These changes would significantly alter the look and feel of the current highway, and compromise the many activities it supports, including providing a critical road freight link to the local Port.”

Waka Kotahi considered that a 40km/h limit is a safe and appropriate speed across a full 24-hour period. “We acknowledge some people will be disappointed at this decision, but a new 40km/h is safer than the current 50km/h,” says Mr Harland.

The last five years has seen two non-injury crashes and one minor injury crash on SH88 through Port Chalmers.

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