Lower speeds for difficult Milford Road

The Homer Tunnel on the Milford Road. Photo: Google Maps
The Homer Tunnel on the Milford Road. Photo: Google Maps
Permanent new speed limits will be in place next week on a notoriously challenging stretch of highway near Milford Sound.

The NZ Transport Agency announced yesterday its new speed limits for State Highway 94 from the Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound.

Regional relationships director James Caygill said the agency wanted to prevent people being killed or seriously injured on the steep and challenging section of road.

The change was part of an initiative identifying highways where lower speed limits could make a difference in saving people’s lives, and where communities were calling for change.

Consultation with iwi, the communities and business operators in Milford Sound and Te Anau, residents along the route, road users and stakeholders started about 18 months ago.

Between 2009 and 2018 there were 76 crashes between the eastern entrance of the Homer Tunnel and Milford Sound.

These claimed three lives and seriously injured eight people.

About 40% of the 76 crashes occurred in the 2016 to 2018 period, when traffic volumes were high; visitor numbers to Milford Sound peaked at 870,000 visitors in 2019, up from 430,000 in 2013.

The recently announced Milford Opportunities Project masterplan also aimed to reduce traffic on the road to improve safety in the remote area.

Mr Caygill said consultation feedback showed broad but not unanimous support for lower speed limits.

"Some of the submitters wanted other measures to improve safety including addressing dangerous driver behaviour, increased police enforcement and providing more safe passing opportunities."

He said there had been other improvements over the past three years, including bridge-widening, safety barriers, and curve signs.

Speed limits from August 11

Homer Tunnel: From eastern approach (1km), western approach (2km) and 1.7km through tunnel: variable 30kmh-60kmh.

Western side of Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound (14km): 80kmh

Milford Sound: Current 30kmh limit extended to east of Deep Basin Access Rd by 500m.

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