Consultation underway on Saddle Road permanent speed limits

4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJanuary 15, 2019

Public consultation by the NZ Transport Agency on proposed permanent speed limits for Saddle Road/Oxford Road/Woodlands Road/State Highway 3 has begun. However, anyone wanting to provide feedback on the proposal will need to act fast, as it closes at 4pm today (Friday 18 January).

The route is one of the bypass routes for the closed State Highway 3 Manawatu Gorge. Due to the heavy increase in traffic following the closure of the gorge, and the subsequent rise in crashes, emergency speed limits were put in place in January 2018.

“As the emergency speed limits are due to expire, the Transport Agency is seeking feedback on the proposed permanent speed limits for this route,” NZTA director safety and environment Harry Wilson says.

Since the closure of the gorge in April 2017, crashes along the route have increased by 88 percent. Before the closure there were a total of five reported crashes between 2013 and 2016. Since the closure there have been 33 reported crashes, including one fatal and two serious injury crashes. Traffic volumes on Saddle Road have also increased, from 150 to 5100 vehicles per day.

“Our priority is to make this a safer route so that everyone using it can get where they are going safely and reliably. We want to make sure no one else loses their life or is seriously injured on these roads,” Wilson says.

Because Saddle Road is being used as an alternative route for the closed Manawatu Gorge, the NZTA is managing and maintaining Saddle Road on behalf of three councils.

The NZTA is consulting on proposed speed limits either side of the length of Saddle Road within the Manawatu District in order to set permanent speed limits for its sections of the route before the emergency speed limits expire.

The Manawatu District Council has consulted and set a 60 kilometres per hour limit on its part of the route (a two-kilometre length east of the Ashhurst Bridge).

It is proposed to make 80 kilometres per hour the permanent speed limit for State Highway 3 from Woodville to Woodlands Road, Woodlands Road, Oxford Road, and Saddle Road from Hope Road to Mangaatua Stream, and to permanently lower the speed limit on Saddle Road from Ashhurst to Mangaatua Stream to 60 kilometres per hour.

“Review of average travel speeds shows people are typically travelling 55 to 59 kilometres per hour across the hill, so for most it isn‘t going to add significantly more time to the journey, but it will keep everyone safer, including those who think it is possible to safely travel at higher speeds,” Wilson says.

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