By RACHEL MACDONALD
Four consultations have yet to yield a single safety improvement outside Woodend School, a public meeting heard last week.
Frustrated residents packed the Woodend Rugby Clubrooms to air their grievances around inaction over State Highway 1.
Woodend, Pegasus and Waikuku residents discussed the lack of movement around long-talked-about safety measures for SH1 through Woodend.
“There were 17,399 vehicles a day going past the school in 2018, many of which were heavy vehicles,” said Shona Powell, chairwoman of the Woodend Community Board and a member of the Woodend Pegasus SH1 Corridor sub-committee.
“We’ve now had four consultations and not seen a single safety improvement. This is taking far too long. When will the New Zealand Transport Agency actually be making some decisions?”
The meeting was called by Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey, who invited the agency to attend.
It sent its South Island director of regional relationships, Jim Harland.
Residents were vocal and passionate in airing their frustrations.
The fourth public consultation in the last four years had closed only last Friday.
However, nothing has yet been implemented to make the highway safer for residents, especially for children trying to cross outside Woodend School,
The main discussion point of the night was the long-hoped-for Woodend Bypass, for which land has already been designated and consents secured. However, Mr Harland made it clear that a new road was not on the cards any time in the near future.
“The Woodend Bypass doesn’t profile highly enough for funding. There’s not enough traffic to justify it; only a third of the vehicles currently passing through Woodend would use it,” he said.
“There are quite a few communities around the country where state highways go through small towns and funding – of which we don’t have enough – has to go to them too. However, we agree, we need to do something in the interim.”
Those new measures, described by one attendee as a “patch-up”, include lowering speed limits between Waikuku and Lineside Rd by Christmas, and possible longer-term plans to widen the shoulders of the road and install median barriers to avoid head-on crashes.
Other ideas raised included clearer signage, traffic lights, roundabouts, speed cameras, pedestrian refuges, and an underpass outside the school.
As one farmer said, if he can get his cattle under the road for $60,000 and the cost of a bit of pipe from Hynds, why can’t NZTA do the same for his children?
At the end of the night, the community was no closer to getting any answers, although assurances were given that funding for some interventions should be close.
“We would like to be able to paint a picture of the medium to long-term outlook by the end of the year,” Mr Harland said.