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Despite criticism of the new Derwent St roundabout’s design, the Waitaki District Council is confident it is working well, with a survey revealing a reduction in speeds at the busy intersection.

The five-way intersection above Waitaki Girls’ High School – of Derwent, Ouse and Reed Sts – was realigned in April. The project cost $145,640.

Before the roundabout was installed, a traffic count survey revealed vehicles were travelling down Derwent St at speeds of up to 102kmh in the 50kmh zone. The average speed through the intersection was 70kmh.

Another survey was carried out earlier this month after the intersection was installed, revealing the maximum speed recorded has dropped from 102kmh to 50kmh. The average speed has also reduced by 20kmh. Speeds at the Ouse St entrance have reduced by 4kmh.

Council roading manager Mike Harrison said nearly all vehicles were now travelling through the intersection at the 50kmh speed limit.

“That’s a significant change, because at 70kmh an hour, if you strike a pedestrian, they’re going to die,” Mr Harrison said.

“The probability of people going home safely at the end of each day is significantly more achievable and it helps me sleep better at night.”

The reduction in speeds at the intersection was pleasantly surprising, he said.

“If it actually spurs a change in behaviour for people to think about intersections then hopefully it’ll avoid them having a crash.

“You drive around that roundabout at about 25-30kmh, which is the same speed you go through every other uncontrolled intersection around the town.”

However, the size and design of the roundabout has drawn plenty of criticism online. It is Oamaru’s largest roundabout, with the outer lane measuring 4m wide.

Mr Harrison was aware of comments made online, but said he was yet to receive any direct complaints to the council.

“I haven’t had anybody say can’t do this’. If somebody’s actually having direct issues, I do want to know.”

The large circle apron was the required size for heavy commercial vehicles, Mr Harrison said.

“[Motorists] can drive around there on [the] normal road, but if they are carrying a trailer or something like that they will go on to the apron,” he said.

Mr Harrison said he valued the community’s feedback as he was always “looking for what we’ve missed”.

“I’m not saying that we are right but I’m trying to say that we’re not wrong,” he said.

“Everyone can come up with a different way of doing things and all of them are right.”