Lower speed limits possibility: NZTA

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Under review . . . The NZ Transport Agency is potentially going to review the speed limits at Lake Tekapo township, which is pictured following the snowfall at Queen's Birthday Weekend earlier this month. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

by Greta Yeoman

Lower speed limits at Tekapo, Burkes Pass, Winchester and Glenavy are potentially on the table, according to the NZ Transport Agency.

The agency has been identifying locations of Canterbury state highways where lower speed limits could make a big difference in preventing fatal and serious crashes.

These include two stretches of State Highway 1 – at Glenavy and Winchester – as well as State Highway 8 at Burkes Pass and Tekapo.

An NZTA spokesperson said residents were concerned about travel speeds in these communities, and the agency was aiming to begin stakeholder and community engagement on proposed speed limit reductions in these areas “as soon as possible”.

Twizel-based Mackenzie District councillor Paul Hannagan, who is also a volunteer firefighter, said the council had been “pushing” for changes to speed limits in Tekapo for many years.

Vehicles enter the township at 80kmh at its northern end, slowing down to 60kmh.

Decreasing the speed limit to 50kmh would be “logical” due to the number of vehicles using the main stretch of road and the limited number of footpaths, he said.

It would also make it “much better” for school children getting off the buses in the centre of town.

However, there had not been any indication of changes further up the highway towards Twizel, even though there were no passing lanes on the highway between Cromwell and Geraldine, Cr Hannagan said.

This was also despite Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park recording 1 million visitors over the summer season, effectively counting for million trips when people were travelling on SH8 towards either Tekapo or Twizel.

Cr Hannagan said there were potentially changes happening to the intersection at the turn-off to Mt Cook. However these were still in the works.

He also pointed out that only 4% of the crashes he attended as a volunteer firefighter involved foreign drivers.

“We really attribute too much to foreign tourists.”