Call for patience over road safety measures

LEIGHTON KEITH
Last updated 05:00 08/01/2014

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Motorists are being told to stay patient about temporary measures put in place to make State Highway 3, north of New Plymouth, safer.

The speed on the stretch of SH3, between Mangati Rd in Bell Block and Mahoetahi Rd, near Brixton, was reduced to 80kmh and two passing lanes along the route were shut in December. The New Zealand Transport Agency and police made the decision to put the temporary changes in place in an attempt to make the killer stretch of highway safer.

However the removal of the passing lanes has been widely criticised by motorists who say it's made the highway less safe.

Concerns raised include a lack of room for heavy vehicles, no where to pass slow moving traffic and no cycle lanes.

Sergeant Stephen Richardson, of Central Districts road policing, said the passing lanes were blocked to prevent drivers from over taking and increasing speed.

"The police urge road users to be tolerant with the reduced speed and other measures as the final outcome is to save lives and reduce injuries," Mr Richardson said. "The whole point is we can't prevent people from making mistakes, however by the lowering of the speed it lessens the likelihood of serious injuries and death."

He said the temporary changes, including the removal of the passing lanes, were not set in stone.

"Whether this will be a permanent feature is unknown but again these are the first steps in making this road safer."

Several issues regarding the changes had been raised by the public and they needed to be discussed with the NZTA, Mr Richardson said.

"We are already in consultation as the safety of all road users on this stretch of highway is paramount.

"There are some very good concerns being raised and we will look at these."

David McGonigal, NZTA regional highways manager, said the agency supported the police's comments and encouraged people to provide feedback on the changes.

"We will be listening to all feedback that we receive," Mr McGonigal said.

He said all concerns would be considered before a final decision was made on what safety measures would remain in place.

"If the changes are made permanent we will make use of the existing road space to provide wider, safer shoulders for cyclists and a more user-friendly route for all drivers. A lower speed limit and a wider shoulder will improve overall safety for cyclists."

Feedback on the changes should be sent to hno-pn@nzta.govt.nz or mailed to NZ Transport Agency, PO Box 1947, Palmerston North 4440 and should be headed "Speed Limit North of New Plymouth".

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- Taranaki Daily News

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