Friday, 18 October 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Local community would like to see Whenuakite traffic issues addressed

The staff and parents of Whenuakite School and Whenuakite Country Kids Early Childhood Education Centre (WCK), directly opposite Whenuakite School, are concerned at the dangers posed by State Highway 25 where it’s running through Whenuakite.  

The current speed limit past Whenuakite School is 40km/h during peak morning and afternoon drop-off and pick-up times (approximately half an hour each). However, outside of those times the vehicle speed limit is 80km/h and State Highway 25 is seeing an increase in large trucks and general traffic as the Mercury Bay area is continuing to grow.

Many parents - including Mercury Bay South resident, Rochelle Palmer - have children attending both Whenuakite School and WCK. Rochelle is uncomfortable with the fact that she and her children often have to cross State Highway 25 without any safety measures.

Flashing speed signs were installed to warn motorists of the 40km/h speed limit during the peak drop-off and pick-up times, but have only recently been repaired after they were out of action for six months due to technical difficulties.

The local community would like to see measures put in place to reduce the State Highway 25 speed limit through Whenuakite. They suggest a maximum speed limit of 50km/h at all times, excluding drop-off and pick-up times when the speed limit should be decreased to 40km/h or lower. It has also been suggested to extend the drop-off and pick-up times to one hour each.

Further measures suggested by the local community include the installation of additional signage from an adequate distance to warn motorists that Whenuakite School and WCK are ahead, as well as a proper pedestrian crossing with an island refuge.

Many members of the local community feel that an underpass would be the safest long-term solution.

Rochelle was instrumental in arranging a series of meeting between the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), Whenuakite School and WCK staff, and local parents where the issue was discussed.  

The meetings resulted in NZTA having prepared a report outlying potential solutions. Rochelle has recently obtained a copy of the report under the provisions of the Official Information Act.

According to the report, the most appropriate solutions appears to be a combination of a reduced speed limit to 60km/h, narrower traffic lanes, the addition of a flush median (diagonal lines painted down the centre of a road), shoulder widening of State Highway 25 and parking improvements at Whenuakite School.

There are at the moment only 18 marked off-street parking spaces at Whenuakite School, resulting in motorists parking on the narrow shoulder on the opposite side of State Highway 25.

Community consultation will be undertaken before any changes are implemented. It is uncertain when NZTA plans to commence with the community consultation. In the meantime, the staff and parents of Whenuakite School and WCK urge all motorists to take extreme care when driving through Whenuakite School on State Highway 25.

Pictured: Mercury Bay south residents, Rochelle Palmer, Digby Palmer and Fleur Palmer, Kelly Walker, Isla Walker and Kate Walker waiting to cross State Highway 25 which runs between Whenuakite School and Whenuakite Country Kids early childhood centre.

LATEST WEEKLY ISSUE

ONLINE POLL

Should the voting age be lowered to 16 years of age?

The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.