Port Chalmers residents are being urged to stand up and have their say, one more time, on reducing the speed limit on State Highway 88, near Port Otago.
After years of complaints from residents, lobbying from the West Harbour Community Board, and more recently Dunedin City Council involvement, the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has put forward a proposal to lower the speed limit to 40kmh on the short stretch of SH88 from Wickliffe Tce to Beach St.
NZTA has asked for community feedback on the proposed speed limit change. Consultation opened on September 6 and continues until October 7.
City councillor Aaron Hawkins and community board chairman Steve Walker, who both live in Port Chalmers, are pleased that the NZTA has listened to community concerns about speed in the area, but point out that local people have consistently called for the speed limit to be lowered still further, to 30kmh.
“It is great that, after a lot of community effort, we have come to this point, but the 40kmh proposal is disappointing,” Mr Walker said.
“The community has been adamant that they want the speed limit to be 30kmh.”
Mr Hawkins said, in line with the wishes of the community, both the council and West Harbour Community Board preferred a 30kmh speed limit for the 500m stretch of road.
“This proposal [from NZTA] is a step in the right direction, but a further step [to 30kmh] would be helpful,” he said.
There were two groups of vulnerable road users in Port Chalmers, whose safety must be considered, Mr Hawkins said.
The first was young children, as the stretch of George St in question links the local primary school, two early childhood centres, and the Port Chalmers Library.
The second was cruise ship visitors, who might be having their first experience of New Zealand roads in Port Chalmers, one of the country’s busiest stretches of road for heavy traffic.
Two summer trials of a 30kmh speed limit, led by the community board, proved effective.
In addition, Port Otago has supported an informal 30kmh speed limit in the area, asking its haulage operators to keep their speed low as they approach the port.
Mr Hawkins said the council was conducting its own speed limit review of surrounding streets, and would make its final decision on limits once the NZTA review was complete.
Both Mr Hawkins and Mr Walker are calling on fellow residents to ensure their voices are heard during the consultation.
“We need to let NZTA know that we want a safer community, so now is the time to submit,” Mr Walker said.
To make a submission, visit www.nzta.govt.nz to fill in an online form, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, including “SH88 Port Chalmers consultation” in the subject line. Postal submissions can also be made.
The NZ Transport Agency is also consulting on a proposal to lower the speed limit on State Highway 1 through Waihola, from 70kmh to 50kmh.