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Council adopts proposed rural roads speed limit changes

Speed limits on most rural and rural residential roads in Horowhenua are set to drop following Horowhenua District Council’s adoption of proposed speed limit changes at its meeting on 12 June.

The changes bring speed limits on most rural roads down to 80 kilometres per hour (km/h) and on most rural residential and unsealed roads to 60 km/h. In addition, the 50 km/h speed limit zone will be extended in some areas.

The reduced speed limits are the result of a speed limit review to enhance road safety on rural roads.

The review was undertaken following changes in legislation, which require speed limits to be reviewed and set in accordance with the updated Land Transport Rule ‘Setting of Speed Limits 2017’. To assist Road Controlling Authorities to determine appropriate speed limits, the New Zealand Transport Agency developed the ‘Speed Management Guide’, which takes into account factors such as roadside hazards, development, traffic and alignment. In June 2018, the New Zealand Government released the updated Government Policy Statement for Land Transport. One of the main aims of the policy statement is improved safety with a key focus area being the setting of safe and appropriate travel speeds.

Council’s Roading Services Manager Kevin Peel said the changes make speed limits on rural roads more appropriate for the road environment.

“The new limits ensure speed zones accurately reflect safety risk to road users. The new speed zones will also be more consistent and minimise frequent speed limit changes to avoid driver confusion,” he said.

“In the past, Council received multiple requests from the public to look at implementing lower speed limits on some rural roads, in particular in areas where there has been significant rural residential development or growth in commercial activities. However, under the old legislation, it was difficult to meet the criteria to lower speeds from the 100km/h default, which has led to occurrences of inconsistent limits or inappropriate speed limits that are no longer suitable for the road environment and conditions.”

Council’s decision to reduce speed limits follows extended public engagement with the community, including an initial online survey and a formal engagement period for people to make written submissions.

Mr Peel said there was a high level of public interest in the issue.

“The online survey had 740 participants and we received 98 submissions during formal engagement. The majority of public feedback supported lowering speed limits on rural roads,” he said.

The reduced speed limits will come into effect following a public notification period and the formal ratification of the updated Land Transport Bylaw, expected at the Council meeting on 14 August.

Council will undertake a review of speed limits of the district’s urban roads in the 2019/20 financial year.

The full Statement of Proposal adopted by Council is available at www.horowhenua.govt.nz/Council/Have-Your-Say/Review-of-Speed-Limits-on-Rural-Roads.

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