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Consultation underway on Saddle Road permanent speed limits

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Public consultation by the NZ Transport Agency on proposed permanent speed limits for Saddle Road/Oxford Road/Woodlands Road/State Highway 3 has begun.

The route is one of the bypass routes for the closed State Highway 3 Manawatū 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,” Transport Agency Director Safety and Environment Harry Wilson says.

Since the closure of the gorge in April 2017, crashes along the route have increased by 88 per cent. 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 increased from 150 to 5100 vehicles per day since the closure.

“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,” Mr Wilson says.

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

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

The Manawatū District Council has consulted and set a 60 kilometres per hour limit on its part of the route (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 55-59 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,” Mr Wilson says.

Public consultation on the proposed speed limits runs from Monday 14 January until 4pm on Friday 18 January 2019.

Feedback can be provided via:

More information, including a map, can be found at: www.nzta.govt.nz/saddle-road-speed-consultation(external link)

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