Lower speeds near kura on the way
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is now consulting on its draft Interim State Highway Speed Management Plan. This document proposes speed-related safety improvements on Ōpōtiki district state highways, particularly, changes to speed near kura and marae.
Speed management is a key part of Waka Kotahi’s ‘Road to Zero’ the national strategy to reduce the number of people seriously injured or killed in road crashes to zero.
Ōpōtiki District Councillor and Coast Community Board Chair, Maxie Kemara, said that he expected local marae to be core to the decision-making process but in addition, this consultation was a good chance for more people to submit on the proposals.
“Many of our kura along the Coast are on or near SH35 so they can be busy areas before and after school with kids making their way along busy roads with fast moving trucks and cars. The last thing anyone wants is someone to get hurt.
“For five of our marae as well, it is an opportunity to have what Waka Kotahi calls ‘Variable speed limits’. These are a chance to lower the speeds near our marae during a large tangi or a big event. In those situations, it will give us the ability to drop the speed down to 60kph instead of 100pkh and that’ll make it safer for the vehicles and pedestrians during that time,” Mr Kemara said.
Council’s Engineering and Services Group Manager, Stace Lewer, said that while the current consultation was on kura and marae on State Highways, the local road network would be going through the same process early in 2023.
“Council needs to align with the national strategy that Waka Kotahi is currently working on and the regional approach that will be out in 2024. So we will put together an interim plan in 2023 to make sure, for a start, our roads around schools, kura and other public spaces are safe for everyone, particularly kids who are walking or biking.
“But our first step will be talking to the schools early in the year. We’ll focus on them for a couple of reasons – primarily, we know lowering speeds around schools will reduce the risk of injury to our kids and encourage more active transport like walking, scootering and biking.
“In addition, across the whole of New Zealand, all schools have to have the new speed limits in place by 2027 and 40% of schools by the middle of 2024.
“So this consultation from Waka Kotahi is a great place to start the conversation and I encourage everyone to put in a submission, short or long,” Mr Lewer said.
The consultation period runs from 14 November to 12 December 2022. You can access more information on the Interim State Highway Speed Management Plan, including the proposed list of speed management activity in Waikato and Bay of Plenty at www.nzta.govt.nz/ISMP.