Sign in unsafe spot, say locals

South West Autos Tapanui owner Racheal Hines wants the NZTA to move 50kmh signs further out of...
South West Autos Tapanui owner Racheal Hines wants the NZTA to move 50kmh signs further out of town to improve safety near her business. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON
Tapanui business owners have described the southern entrance to the town as a speed "deathtrap" that needs to be fixed.

Last winter South West Autos owners Racheal and Geoff Hines contacted the NZ Transport Agency to raise concerns about the 50kmh advisory sign opposite the exit to their yard.

The exit sits at the top of a blind summit on State Highway 90, entering the town from Gore.

Their concerns were twofold, Mrs Hines said.

"We moved the business here in 2017, and immediately noticed much of the traffic, including trucks, was only just beginning to slow down from 100kmh when they were right on top of the 50kmh sign. That meant customers entering or leaving the yard, and Ritchies buses that also use the yard, were taking their lives in their hands every time.

"Then, since we made the request for NZTA to look at moving the sign, there's been a new residential subdivision go in, and we've also developed plans for a new business right across the road, so it's a deathtrap in waiting."

Mr Hines said the issue could be solved simply by moving the sign about 200m further south, to the base of the hill.

"They tell us it's part of a nationwide speed review that needs to wait its turn, but we've been in limbo with our business associate for at least 12 months now. It's holding up opportunities for this town and needlessly endangering lives in the meantime."

He said he had seen two accidents at the base of the hill due to excessive speed, and "multiple" near misses outside his business.

"Essentially [NZTA] doesn't know what it's doing, and is just fobbing us off. We've written several letters and have got zero traction."

The issue was also raised during the most recent West Otago Community Board meeting, where deputy chairwoman Sue Wink decried the "lack of action" from the NZTA.

"The board, the mayor and the police are all of the same opinion here. Surely, it's a simple matter to find a way forward?"

Board chairwoman Barbara Hanna said the board would "escalate" the request by contacting the agency on behalf of the parties concerned.

A spokeswoman for the NZTA was unable to comment in detail yesterday, but said the agency was "aware of the request, which is being progressed".

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