By Robyn Bristow
A signalised crossing will be installed outside the Woodend School to increase the safety of pupils crossing State Highway One at peak hours.
Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency says it is the first step in a number of measures to make the highway safer around the North Canterbury town as part of the Safe Network Programme.
The Agency’s director of regional relationships Jim Harland says the signalised crossing
will replace the existing kea crossing run by the school community which is no longer an ideal option in ensuring traffic stops for children.
The kea crossing uses Stop signs on poles to get traffic to stop for children to get across morning and afternoon.
Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey saysthe news will come as a relief to residents after the township turned out for a protest rally last month.
‘‘Residents feel their voices have been heard. We have kept up the pressure to bring forward these urgently needed safety improvements, from my community petition to my Rally for Woodend, which saw residents pack out Owen Stalker Park to have their voices heard. This is true community-led action. We did not give up.
‘‘We are proud to have stood together to back Woodend and to support our Woodend community in bringing a signalised crossing over the line so that our families and elderly do not need to run the gauntlet to get to the school and shops.
‘‘The signalised crossing is a great short-term solution that will make our residents feel safer but the bigger issue of increased traffic movements through Woodend remains – and that can only be addressed by a Woodend Bypass,” says Mr Doocey.
Waimakariri District Council Mayor Dan Gordon says the traffic signals are a great starting
point in making Woodend, Ravenswood and Pegasus communities safer.
‘‘This is one part of a programme of work which will make the current road through Wood
end much safer.
‘‘I know the community have expressed their views over a number of years and am
sure they will be happy to see they’ve been listened to in the short term while continuing to advocate for further safety improvements and ultimately the Woodend bypass,’’ he says.
Te Kura Tuatahi o Pakiaka, Woodend School Principal Adrienne Simpson is also pleased at the funding decision for the traffic signals.
‘‘As a school, we have obviously advocated for the signalised crossing to be fast tracked when discussing the proposed safety improvements, as this would make a significant difference to the safety of our students coming to and from school each day.
‘‘With the huge increase in traffic flow through Woodend over recent times, this would benefit not only the school families but the whole community.
“It will be a great assistance in the short term, but ultimately longer-term safety measures as well as the bypass are also needed for Woodend’’ she says.
The Transport Agency is working with the Woodend community on other safety improvements around Woodend.
The Agency also has funding for design of safety features, including a roundabout and median barriers, on SH1 between Williams St, south of Woodend, and Tram Road, Belfast.
Construction is planned in this three-year funding cycle, 2018 2021.
Mr Harland says the agency will issue further notification of when any of this work will
be done as soon as we have more definite dates.
‘‘We are currently finalising our analysis of technical data along with the submissions we
received during formal consultation on the SH1 Waikuku to Lineside Road speed review.
Changing speed limits is a legal process and it is important due process is followed.
We hope to be able to confirm the outcome of the speed review within the coming months,’’ he says.