Introducing a 110kmh speed limit on the Tauranga Eastern Link is being given serious consideration according to Transport Minister Simon Bridges.
The $445 million, five-year TEL project is one of New Zealand Transport Agency’s candidates for the 10km increase.
A 110kmh speed limit for the Tauranga Eastern Link is being tabled. Photo: Supplied.
The list also includes Wellington’s Kapiti Expressway, the Waikato Expressway and the Northern Gateway toll road north of Auckland.
Tauranga MP Simon says while no decision has been made, he is open to discussions with NZTA on such a possibility.
“The question is for a small number of newly designed roads, including the Tauranga Eastern Link, are they designed in a way that they can safely take these speeds?”
The move is part of a National Safer Speeds Programme – being developed in the Government’s Safer Journeys 2013-15 Action Plan – aimed at reducing deaths and serious injuries on the road network while maintaining or improving travel times on high-volume routes.
NZTA road safety director Ernst Zollner says the change was being considered as part of a wider review that could see some speed limits reduced to better suit the road design and environment.
Ernst says: “The Safer Speeds programme outlines a national framework of safe and appropriate speeds for different road types, taking function, safety, design and use into account.
“Using the framework to identify and manage the highest road safety risks will allow for a more consistent approach across the country.”
A 110kmh limit is being considered provided the motorways are flat, straight, have two lanes in each direction, a median barrier and good shoulder space.
Simon says for the limit to be enforced there are some “high hurdles” to overcome, including a NZTA report, a decision from cabinet and a law change through parliament.
Setting limits higher than 100km/h is currently not allowed in New Zealand, and would require a change to the Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2003, which would need government approval and public consultation.
He admits to having reservations about the implications of allowing drivers to travel at 110kmh when the average age of the vehicle fleet was 13 years.
“My personal question is whether they are safe enough for even the oldest cars in our fleet and that would be something I would want to be satisfied about,” says Simon.
“I don’t want to rule out a small number of 110km roads because it’s worth at least having a discussion and going through the opinions and facts that are presented.
Ernst says all roads are not created equally and what is a safe speed on one road will be different to what is a safe speed on another.
The programme will support safer urban speeds which increase the safety of walking and cycling.
Simon adds that the next step in the process is what the NZTA’s investigations reveal before deciding whether to progress discussions around the law change required for the new limit.
The TEL is forecast to be officially opened late next year. However, no update has been given on whether last week’s TEL bridge fire will delay this timeframe.