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Proposal to vary speed limit at popular tourist spot, Moeraki Boulders intersection – public comment sought

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Feedback is being sought by the NZ Transport Agency on its proposal to put in place a variable speed limit of 70km/h on State Highway 1 either side of the turnoff to Moeraki Boulders, in the Waitaki District.

The speed restriction would apply 170 metres either side of the Moeraki Boulders Road to increase safety at this busy rural intersection. 

The Transport Agency conducted a safety assessment at this site following a fatal crash in late 2016 and in response to community concerns. The crash history from 2011 – 2016 currently indicates five crashes resulting in one fatal injury, one serious injury and four minor injuries.

Transport Agency Southern Business Unit Manager Ian Duncan says as a result of the safety assessment, it was decided that a Rural Intersection Active Warning System offered the most practical solution to manage the crash risk at the intersection.

“This means that when a vehicle on the state highway approaches the right turn bay, or there is a vehicle waiting to turn right onto the highway from the Moeraki Boulders Road, the electronic Active Warning System signs on either side of the intersection will display a 70km/h speed limit. This requires drivers to slow down as they pass the intersection. When there are no vehicles making right turns into or out of Moeraki Boulders Road, the 100km/h open road speed limit applies.” 

The aim of the variable speed limit is to reduce the severity of crashes by lowering the operating speed on the highway. 

Mr Duncan says a variable speed limit through this area is part of the Transport Agency’s ongoing commitment to creating safer journeys by reducing the numbers of deaths and serious injuries on roads through the Safe System(external link) approach.

“It recognises that people make mistakes and are vulnerable in a crash, and aims to reduce the price paid for a mistake so crashes don’t result in death or serious injuries. This includes building safer roads and encouraging people to drive their vehicles at safe speeds.”

Mr Duncan added that the Transport Agency is also working on other improvements at this intersection such as extending the right turn bay and providing better left turn facilities.

“We have tested the suitability of this proposed variable speed limit at this intersection to ensure it makes sense in this environment,” he says.

The Transport Agency has been working closely with the Waitaki District Council to improve safety at this site.

A wider programme of safety improvement work is also planned for later in the year on SH1 between the Waitaki Bridge and Dunedin, as part of a nationwide $600 million safer road and roadsides programme which the Transport Agency is delivering on behalf of the government.

Feedback on this proposal can be made in writing to: The Senior Safety Engineer, NZ Transport Agency, PO Box 5245, Dunedin 9058, or emailed to SpeedLimitOtgoSthlnd@nzta.govt.nz by 7 April 2017.

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