The NZ Transport Agency is advising people travelling on the alternative Picton to Christchurch route that speed limits have been lowered in some areas along state highways 7, 65, 6 and 63 in order to keep everyone using the road safe.
“The alternative route is challenging to drive and since the Kaikōura earthquake, the volume of vehicles travelling this route has quadrupled. There has also been a large increase in the number of heavy vehicles. In light of this, our road safety engineers have reviewed the route to ensure that the speed limits are appropriate for road users and the people living in the communities they travel through,” says Frank Porter, Highway Manager for the Transport Agency.
Mr Porter said speed limits had been lowered from 100km/h to 80 km/h to improve safety on sections where the road is windy and narrow for more than two kilometres.
Speed limits will also be reduced at key intersections, particularly where there is an increase in right turning traffic, including heavy vehicles and campervans.
To improve safety for people living in communities along the alternative route, speed limits through all the townships and villages along the route will be a maximum of 60 km/h. Existing speed limits of 50km/h will not change.
New signage will be installed at all schools along the route to indicate a 40 km/h speed limit when children are present.
Between Blenheim and Renwick the speed limit is lowered to 80km/h with a reduction to 50km/h at the east of Renwick. This simplifies a mixture of speed limits through this area and with increased traffic will enhance safety along the route and at intersections.
“There is increased traffic between Blenheim and Woodbourne and at peak hours in particular, safety along this stretch is paramount,” says Mr Porter. “Lowering travel speeds to 80km/h will add very little to the journey time but will increase safety for everyone.”
There will be also be more signage installed on difficult or unexpected curves.
Mr Porter says the speed limit changes are supported by the local community, the trucking industry and Police as an important tool for improving safety on the busy alternative route.
“At this time of the year, we’re all keen to get away for the traditional summer break. So that everyone gets to their destination safely, we’re asking road users to be patient, cautious and courteous, and follow all road signage and stick to the speed limits. Stop for regular breaks and make the journey part of your holiday. There are plenty of rest stops along the way with fuel, cafes and toilet facilities,” Mr Porter says.