“Do we need a tragedy?” – Greymouth School Fights for Road Safety Rating

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Karoro School in Greymouth.
Photo: Included / Google

A plea by the Greymouth School for the NZ Transport Agency to do something about the traffic on the road outside was labeled ’emotional’, but it was backed by the West Coast Regional Transport Commission.

A frustrated Karoro School recently took the step of hiring an independent consultant – at a cost of about $8,000 – to try to convince the agency that the school community’s safety concerns are urgent.

“I’m a parent at school and it can be an emotional issue when you talk about children. How far should we go as a parent? As a board, I feel like we’ve done everything we could,” said Suzi Taylor, board chairman of Karoro School, today.

“Do we need a tragedy before we have change here?”

She felt that the matter had been discussed for years and that nothing had been done.

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“It’s an ongoing problem and waiting for an accident,” Taylor said.

“We see the risks that people are taking on a daily basis — it’s a concern.”

The speed limit beyond the school was raised with the West Coast Regional Transport Committee this week.

Gray committee representative Peter Haddock said in his road safety report that he wanted the committee to seek formal feedback from the agency to address several issues, including Karoro.

Haddock said in a previous meeting with the NZTA about Karoro that they had been told “we played on our emotions”.

“But really, it’s only a matter of time and an accident or fatality happens there,” he said.

“It would be good if that is addressed.”

He also noted that Paroa School had similar problems with people entering the 80 km/h zone at Paroa from the public road 100 km/h and missing the flashing 40 km/h school warning signs.

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James Caygill, the NZTA’s director of regional relations, said the Karoro issue fell directly into the new Road to Zero rules and the current 70 km/h zone would disappear.

“That speed is going down – it won’t stay at its current speed. I can promise you that,” he said.

A member of the NZTA speed rating, Mike Creamer, said the timing for all speed changes was towards the end of 2027, “as the last point”.

However, he understood that in the meantime, a review of all more than 260 school zones along state highways was expected.

Taylor said the board had sought meetings with NZTA but was recently told “they won’t look into it until 2024”.

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“I’ve been on the board for four to five years. It’s been a problem for years… I think as a board and school we have done everything we can at the moment.”

The board had surveyed the school community, developed its own transport plan and looked at various ways to reduce the traffic hazard for children and families entering the school via State Highway 6.

Taylor said the board felt there was no choice but to engage a consultant “at its own expense” to try and get some traction on NZTA.

The review had since been forwarded to the agency.

“We just decided we thought it was necessary.”

The board had sought consultation with NZTA, but invariably the effort was “quickly halted”.

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ On Air

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