West Coast goes green and red
The Press
Last updated 05:00 07/05/2009

The West Coast has its first traffic lights - 141 years after the world's first traffic lights began operating in London.

The solar-powered lights, at Fern Arch and Iron Bridge on State Highway 6 in the Buller Gorge, are part of a $694,000 project to reduce the high crash rate in single-lane sections of the gorge.

Buller Mayor Pat McManus said he hoped more work would be done on State Highway 6, such as replacing some single-lane bridges and building more passing bays.

He said the lights reflected increased traffic flows, including a growing number of tourists not always aware of the need for caution.

"You either love the lights or hate them," McManus said.

"It's quite strange going through the Buller Gorge and coming across a set of lights, but to me they are keeping that piece of road safer."

A Westport grandmother does not like traffic lights but said she could "just about live with them" in the Buller Gorge.

She is happy to drive from Westport across the island, but she pulls over and lets her husband drive when she strikes Christchurch's opening set of traffic lights in Belfast.

"I don't mind the idea of them in the Buller Gorge, particularly around Fern Arch. I'd rather have them out there in the bush than in the city with all the other traffic around," she said.

The New Zealand Transport Agency's Canterbury-West Coast highways manager, Colin Knaggs, said there had been many nose-to-tail, low-speed crashes in the Buller Gorge.

From here.