Lower speed limits proposed

Three sections of  Milford Rd have been proposed for a  speed limit drop in an attempt to reduce...
Three sections of Milford Rd have been proposed for a speed limit drop in an attempt to reduce the number of crashes. PHOTO: MARK PRICE
Big changes are proposed for speed limits on the well-used Milford Rd.

Three sections have been identified as needing change under a Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency initiative.

The initiative aims are to identify highways where lower speed limits could make a difference in preventing deaths and serious injuries, and where communities are calling for change.

Transport Agency regional relationships director Jim Harland said NZTA spoke about the proposal to locals, who raised key issues about the section of State Highway 94 from the Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound.

Those included significant increases in traffic, the alpine terrain and volatile weather and the tight, turning nature of the highway.

"They also mentioned the high number of visitors driving this road for the first time, which also makes the current speed limits too high to feel safe."

He said the proposal would help reduce the number of crashes on the road.

There had been 76 crashes between the eastern entrance of the Homer Tunnel and Milford Sound between 2009 and 2018, with 40% between 2016 and 2018.

There had been a 35% rise in the average daily traffic counts on the route between 2014 and 2018 and vehicle numbers had risen from 670 to 1040 in four years.

The first change would replace the 100kmh speed limits on 1km of the eastern approach to the Homer Tunnel and 2km of the western approach, as well as through the tunnel, with a variable 30-60kmh limit.

A consistent 80kmh limit would replace the present mix of 100kmh and 80kmh from the tunnel to Milford Sound.

The proposal would also extend the current 30kmh limit in Milford Sound to the east of the Deep Basin Access Road on a 500m section of SH94 that has an 80kmh limit.

Feedback on the proposal can be made online from Monday, November 18 to December 19 at www.nzta.govt.nz/southland or emailed to southland.speed.reviews@nzta.govt.nz

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