Waihi Community Demands Urgent Speed Limit Reduction From NZTA
Locals, Hauraki District Councillors and Deputy Mayor Paul Milner gathered in Waihi this morning to protest NZTA's inaction at reducing the speed limit along the well-known dangerous entrance to the town.
"Residents have been calling for a speed limit reduction in this area for years," says protest organiser, past Councillor and local business owner Austin Rattray. "We've long had support from the Mayor, Council and our local MP Scott Simpson, and still nothing has been done - the wait is literally killing us."
In recent years, the stretch of highway coming out of Waihi town towards Paeroa has seen many serious and fatal crashes, sparking residents' calls for the speed reduction.
"Waihi is a growing town, with a lot more traffic. We have a new housing development, a children's playground, Heatherington House Rest Home and a retirement village on this stretch of road, as well as several dangerous intersections. NZTA tells us that work to reduce the speed limit is 'urgent', but nothing is being done" says protest organiser and Hauraki district Council's Waihi Ward Chair Anne Marie Spicer.
Recently, a dangerous intersection on this stretch of road saw another serious crash. One local resident was airlifted to Waikato Hospital, and another local was taken to Thames Hospital. The crash also resulted in severe delays to holiday traffic - which was backed up through the Karangahake Gorge right through to Karangahake.
NZTA is currently doing a technical assessment, identifying characteristics of the road, crash data, entrance ways etc. After speaking with NZTA, Rattray understands that a change in limits could happen in about a year. "To make this road safer, there's not much NZTA need to do," says Rattray. "Lowering the speed limit would be relatively inexpensive and easy. We're concerned about NZTA's timeframe, despite the acknowledged 'urgent' status - we need the changes to happen now."
MP for Coromandel Hon Scott Simpson agrees "statistics on traffic incidents in this area indicate it's common sense to lower the speed limit, and I support the need for change now. NZTA has said the change is needed, and I can't understand what the delay is, let's get on and do it."
Hauraki District Council and current Mayor Toby Adams, have also been advocating for the change "I'm frustrated this process is taking so long" says Adams "and urge NZTA to make this change a high priority.”