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The placard-waving protesters left long traffic queues building up to the north and south.
However, they were quickly moved to the roadside without incident when the police arrived.
Senior Sergeant Andy Norton, of the Rangiora police, said they were called to ‘‘make sure nobody got hurt’’.
The exasperation felt by the Woodend community at living alongside a busy section of SH1 was expressed at the gathering, dubbed the Rally for Woodend.
It was held in Woodend’s Owen Stalker Park, with many among the large crowd carrying placards calling for the long-awaited bypass.
Woodend Community Association president Mark Paterson, who is also a Woodend-Sefton Community Board member, said the Woodend community had been waiting 40 years for a solution to the town’s traffic problems.
‘‘What you can’t argue with is it’s just not safe,’’ he said. ‘‘Does someone have to die on that road before something is done?’’
He wanted those responsible for making the decision about a bypass to consider that, and asked who would be responsible if someone was killed.
‘‘In the private sector, if dangerous problems like this are ignored and people get hurt, someone is fined, prosecuted or goes to jail.’’
Speakers said the safety measures planned for the highway, and the bypass, were both needed because they would make the town safer and a better place to live and visit.
‘‘To be clear, the safety improvements and the bypass work hand in hand,’’ Shona said.
‘‘Even if funding was announced soon for the bypass, it would be years before completion.
‘‘In the interim we need the safety improvements now so that people can move around the town safely.’’
The rally was organised by Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey to call on the Government to include the Woodend bypass in this year’s Budget.
However, with Woodend’s SH1 daily traffic counts expected to reach 20,000 vehicle movements a day this year, ‘‘it is just not safe’’, he said.
Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon offered the large crowd a glimmer of hope when he told them that the council supported the bypass.
He said he wrote last year to Transport Minister Phil Twyford seeking a meeting to push the case for the bypass.
The minister has agreed to meet with him but a date has yet to be confirmed.
Woodend celebrant Jane Godfrey was the rally master of ceremonies.
‘‘We are all here to make a difference,’’ she told the crowd.
‘‘Build the bypass. We have had enough. It is not safe in our village anymore.’’
THE TRAFFIC KEEPS COMING
Woodend School principal Adrienne Simpson wasn’t surprised by the response when she asked the pupils who operate the school’s road patrol crossing on State Highway 1 how they felt about the job.
‘‘The students are all aged about 12. They are trained, highly skilled and very good at what they do,’’ Adrienne said.
‘‘But I have been working with students doing road patrol for a long time now and I know it is not an easy job.’’
She was a guest speaker at the Rally for Woodend, and included comments from students in her speech. This what they had to say:
- ‘‘It feels a bit scary. A lot of big trucks cause wind blasts. It’s a bit nerve-wracking as there is lots of traffic and you never know whether the cars will stop.’’
- ‘‘There is always long waits for cars to stop — no gaps in the traffic — even if you put your hand up they still don’t stop.’’
- ‘‘There are long waits for people to cross.’’
- ‘‘It’s really fun — a big responsibility but a cool opportunity to help. It requires great teamwork.’’
- ‘‘Very scary. There is lots of pressure trying to make sure people are safe crossing the roads.’’
- ‘‘It is such a busy road, no gaps for the signs. Sometimes you feel like you have to take risks and make split-second decisions. So many cars just speed up and drive through.’’