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Online feedback leads the way for highway speed review engagement

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Those looking to have their say on making our state highways safer in Northland and north Auckland largely turned to online platforms to make their views known.

From May 3 to June 14 Waka Kotahi invited everyone in the community to get in touch either by attending one of our pop-up events across the north, face to face meetings, online feedback, or by filling out a flyer.

"We received 1,162 individual submissions on the 11 state highways we were looking at as part of this speed review. More than two thirds of those people chose to share their thoughts using our online feedback tools," says Steve Mutton, Waka Kotahi Director Regional Relationships Te Tai Tokerau me Tāmaki Makaurau.

"It’s incredibly pleasing to see the wide range of viewpoints received. We are now taking the time to consider all submissions before publishing them and then consulting on our recommendations next year."

"Speed plays an undeniable role in the horrifying numbers of people being killed and seriously injured on our roads. It’s the primary factor between people being killed and seriously injured, or walking away unharmed from a crash," says Steve Mutton.

There’s been 25 people killed on Northland roads this year, more than half of those on our state highways.

"However, we know speed limits that are safe and right for the road are just one part of a safe road system. We're also investing in roading improvements and maintenance to make roads safer in Te Tai Tokerau Northland and Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Mr Mutton says.

Under the just released funding commitments for the 2021-24 National Land Transport Programme, Northland is set to receive $751 million.

That will see significant investment in a number of speed and infrastructure improvements along prioritised state highways, particularly SH1, SH10 and local roads. This is supported by investment from the NZ Upgrade Programme (NZUP) for targeted safety upgrades along the SH1 Whangārei to Port Marsden highway route.

$344m of that funding will also go towards the maintenance of current state highways and local roads to ensure all Northlanders can continue to drive on safe well-maintained roads.

Changing speed limits is a legal process and there are a number of steps that Waka Kotahi must follow. Our next steps will be to show people a detailed proposal using both our technical assessment and public feedback.

"Early indications show people are particularly concerned about sections of state highways where there are schools, preschools and a high number of people who walk or bike," says Steve Mutton.

Feedback also showed some people would like speed limits to remain the same, and others shared concerns around driver behaviour including drug and alcohol use.

"While we would like to thank everyone for their input, we particularly want to acknowledge iwi and hapū for the time they have spent talking with us about their concerns and ideas. We have heard your feedback around the need for safer crossing points and better signage outside marae, kura kāinga, areas that attract a high number of tourists and at key intersections."

Waka Kotahi is now planning for the next phase, which will involve a formal public consultation in 2022. We will prepare a detailed proposal and consult on the speed limit changes we recommend.

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