Speed reduction planned for BOP road

The Blueberry Curves, named for the nearby berry farm, on Thornton Road, have been the site of over 40 crashes over the past 20 years, including several fatalities. Beacon file photo.

Speed limits on Thornton Road from the intersection with State Highway 30 to the western end of the “Blueberry Curves” will be reduced from 100km/h to 80km/h.

Whakatāne District Council’s infrastructure committee made the decision this week, but the change will not be immediate, and will come into force by 2026.

The speed change replaces previous plans to improve safety on the road through infrastructure work such as widening the centre line, roadside safety barriers, and shoulder widening curve easing that was expected to begin this year.

Costs for the project have escalated from $3.8 million to $7 million since 2022, and there has been a plateauing of crash statistics in recent years with no fatalities recorded since 2017.

Meanwhile, there has been an increase in crash statistics on other high-risk roads across the district. These include Te Teko, Tāneatua, Galatea, Ōhope and Gorge roads.

“The cost of undertaking all these safety interventions becomes unaffordable and is a high-risk, high-cost exercise of ‘whack-a-mole’,” transport, strategy and assets team leader Joe Metcalfe says in his report.

The option of changing the speed limit to 80km/h, instead, comes at an estimated cost of $200,000, to cover the cost of replacing signs.

“The average speed for this section is 83km/h and 90 per cent of people travel at or below 90km/h,” he says.

“The impact on travel time for users would be less than 54 seconds, with half of drivers experiencing less than a five-second delay.”

The initial option included the area of road between the curves, all the way to West Bank Road, however, councillors agree that the reduction in speed was not necessary west of the curves.

During the meeting, Councillor Wilson James sought clarification from staff on why the limit was not just from the corner of Luxton Road to the western end of the curves.

He was told by the report writers that there was a lot of turning traffic on the Thornton Road straight between SH30 and the curves, and during the summer there were occasions when temporary 80km/h restrictions were put in place.

The committee also discussed the proposed speed management plan for the entire district, with councillors having differing opinions.

The plan had seen changes through last year’s consultation process, to no longer have blanket speed restriction of 30km/h in most urban streets.

The 30km/h restrictions remain in place in large numbers of streets near schools and commonly used routes to schools and town centre areas such as Kopeopeo and The Strand, including after hours and at weekends.

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.

You may also like....


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment.