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Picton-Christchurch keeps lower speeds

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/06/2017

Lower speed limits will remain on the alternative route from Picton to Christchurch, despite lack of public support.

The speed limit on the alternative State Highway 1 (north of Kaikoura) route was introduced under emergency legislation after the November earthquake, but temporary speed limits are only lawful for six months.

A bylaw, which comes into place on June 18, means the current emergency speed limits are now permanent speed limits and will stay in place until heavily damaged SH1 is repaired.

Nearly 300 parties submitted on lower speeds. Most supported lower speeds through townships (50km/h or 60km/h) but there was "limited public support" for an 80km/h limit on open roads, the New Zealand Transport Agency says.

However, reverting to the pre-quake speed limits, while SH1 remained closed, would be "irresponsible" given the lower speeds were introduced for safety reasons, says NZTA's Jim Harland.

The perception that lower speed limits significantly increased travel times was incorrect, he said.

"While there are delays on the alternate route caused by necessary roadworks, lower speed limits have increased average journey time between Picton and Christchurch by less than two minutes."

So far $1.5 million had been spent on slow vehicle lanes and pullover bays and 20 more were being built. NZTA is looking at even more.

The speed limits may be reviewed once SH1 is reopened, but that won't be until at least the end of the year.

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