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Variable speed limit on State Highway 1 at Moeraki, Waitaki District, favoured

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Feedback is generally supportive of a proposed variable speed limit of 70km/h on the State Highway 1 (SH1) turnoff to Moeraki Boulders.

It would apply 170 metres either side of the Moeraki Boulders Road and is designed to increase safety at this busy rural highway intersection.

A safety assessment at this site was carried out by the NZ Transport Agency following a fatal crash in late 2016 and in response to community concerns. The crash history from 2011 to 2016 currently indicates five crashes resulting in one fatality, one serious injury and four minor injuries.

Of the 73 submissions received when feedback closed on 7 April, over two thirds supported a variable speed limit.

“We appreciate so many people providing feedback,” says Transport Agency Southern Business Unit Manager Ian Duncan. “We are encouraged by the fact that many of the submitters support this change. The new variable limit will help reduce the severity of crashes at the State Highway 1 Moeraki Boulders turnoff by lowering the speed of highway traffic.

“It will also allow the installation ofa Rural Intersection Active Warning System (RIAWS). Our safety assessment showed this technology offered the most practical solution to manage the crash risk at this site.”

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 RIAWS signs on either side of the intersection will display a 70km/h speed limit. This requires highway traffic 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.

Mr Duncan says various processes need to be worked through to get the variable speed limit in place, and these should be completed by the end of April. The RIAWS can be installed weather permitting in a few days. The aim is to have the system up and running as soon as possible – end of April/ early May.

The variable speed limit at the Moeraki Boulders Road turnoff plus the RIAWS are part of the Transport Agency’s commitment to creating safer journeys by reducing the numbers of deaths and serious injuries on roads through the Safe System(external link) approach.

Mr Duncan said the safe system recognises that people make mistakes and are vulnerable in a crash. “The safe system 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 at safe speeds.”

The work being done at the Moeraki Boulders turnoff will contribute to a wider programme of safety improvements along SH1 between the Waitaki Bridge and Dunedin.

A start on that wider programme is expected to be made in mid-2018. This programme worth between $3 million and $5 million and is part of a nationwide $600 million safer road and roadsides programme being delivered by the NZ Transport Agency on behalf of the government.

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