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Safe speeds proposed for part of picturesque Milford Road

Safe speeds proposed for part of picturesque Milford Road

Consultation starts on Monday, 18 November, on a proposal for safer speed limits on three sections of SH94 between the Homer Tunnel and Milford Sound.

This review is part of a Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency initiative identifying highways where lower speed limits could make a big difference in preventing deaths and serious injuries, and where communities are calling for change. The 17km section of SH94 between the Homer Tunnel and Milford Sound is one of the most mountainous and challenging to drive between Te Anau and Milford Sound.

“There’s a desire among the community for a lower speed limit on the sections of highway covered by this proposal, which has the support of key stakeholders including the Southland District Council, and NZ Police,” says Transport Agency Director Regional Relationships Jim Harland.

Currently more than a million visitors a year travel to Milford Sound. Between 2014 and 2018 there’s been a 35 percent rise in the average daily traffic counts on this route, with vehicle numbers rising from 670 in 2014 to 1040 in 2018.

“We’ve talked to the local community about this proposal. They raised several key issues for them about the section of SH94 from the Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound. These included significant increases in traffic using the road, the area’s harsh alpine terrain, volatile weather and the tight turning nature of the highway. They also mentioned the high number of visitors driving this road for the first time, which also makes the current speed limits too high to feel safe.”

Hr Harland said this proposal will help reduce the high number of crashes on this road. Between 2009 and 2018 there were 76 crashes between the eastern entrance of the Homer Tunnel and Milford Sound. These claimed three lives and seriously injured eight people. Just over 40 percent of the 76 crashes happened between 2016 to 2018.

What’s proposed?

Replacing the current 100km/h speed limits on the eastern approach to the Homer Tunnel (1km) and western approach(2km) and through the Homer Tunnel (1.7km) with a variable 30-60km/h limit. Currently there’s a 100km/h speed limit.
From the western approach of the Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound (14km) an 80km/h limit would replace the existing mix of 100km/h and 80km/h limits.
Extending the current 30km/h limit in Milford Sound to the east of the Deep Basin Access Road on a 500metre section of SH94 with an 80km/h limit.

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