By ROBYN BRISTOW
Woodend, following in the footsteps of a hit 2017 movie, is using three billboards to get its message across.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri used road signage to highlight inaction on a murder. In Woodend, a new community group is using its three billboards to needle the Labour-led Government.
They highlight the Government’s canning of a bypass around the town and lack of action on safety measures to keep pedestrians safe around the busy highway.
The Make SH1 Safer Committee is driving the fight to make the state highway at Woodend and Pegasus safer, and wants to bring the bypass back to the table.
It follows years of repeated consultation with the New Zealand Transport Agency, promises, procrastination and disappointment.
Meanwhile, the traffic count continues to rise, with up to 16,000 vehicles travelling through Woodend and on to the Pegasus roundabout. Many are trucks towing trailers, and many speed.
Fed-up communities have had enough and are now increasing the pressure, calling out the Government through the signs.
A protest march is also being considered to emphasise the reinstatement of the bypass, and the inclusion of the Belfast-to-Pegasus Motorway.
Local Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey is backing the new committee.
He is organising a public meeting with the Transport Agency so residents can voice their concerns and tell it about some simple safety measures that could help keep them and their children safe until a bypass becomes a reality, or at the very least is back on the table.
“It is great to see community action taking shape with the Make SH1 Safer Committee being formed from local community representatives,” he says.
Last month, Mr Doocey brought National leader Simon Bridges to a public meeting he called so residents could vent their frustrations over the delay of Woodend corridor safety
improvements by the agency while it seeks funding from the Government.
The meeting was attended by representatives of Woodend School, the volunteer fire brigade, and community and sporting groups.
Mr Doocey says residents tasked him with getting the agency to a meeting to respond to the community’s concerns.
“The Woodend Bypass group wants to present to NZTA at that meeting all the
safety issues residents face on a daily basis.
“They are asking the community to send in details of near misses, incidents
and accidents, and safety, speed and congestion issues on SH1 through Woodend and Pegasus,” he says.
Mr Doocey has petitioned the Government to save the bypass and the Belfast-to-Pegasusmotorway project after it was cancelled.
Mr Bridges confirmed at the recent meeting that National would build the bypass if elected.
“The bypass has always been a community-led vision and, with our rapid growth after the earthquakes, something needs to be done now,” he says.
Residents can email their experiences and concerns on SH1 through Woodend and Pegasus to make