Increased speed limits being looked at for parts of State Highway 1, Wellington


Waka Kotahi is working to see if speed limits can be increased to 110 km/h on the Mackays to Peka Peka and Peka Peka to Ōtaki expressways next year.

Emma Speight, Director, Regional Relationships, says a speed management technical review is being done and the intention is to make a decision on speed limits for the expressways in early 2024.

“The review, along with public consultation, will see if it is appropriate to increase the speed limit on these expressways without compromising driver safety. We can consider increasing the posted speed limit when a road is designed and constructed to modern safety standards.”

Safety improvements - Mackays to Peka Peka and Peka Peka to Otaki

The two projects, Mackays to Peka Peka and Peka Peka to Ōtaki expressways, completed in 2017 and 2022, respectively, are built to high safety and operational design standards.

Safety features include:

  • Median and shoulder barriers
  • Two lanes in each direction
  • The removal of crossroads and tight curves.

These measures significantly reduce the risk of serious collisions. 

Crash statistics – pre- and post-opening of the new expressways

Emma Speight says before the new sections of State Highway 1 were built, there were over a thousand crashes on the old highway route between 2008 and 2022. Of these, 10 were fatal, and 55 were serious. 

“The number of crashes on the new expressway between Mackays Crossing and Peka Peka has fallen dramatically following its opening in 2017. 166 crashes have been recorded, with no fatal crashes and only seven serious crashes.”

“Since the opening of Peka Peka to Ōtaki Expressway last year, there have only been four minor crashes on the route,” Ms Speight says.

Next steps

New higher speed limits can only be considered for roads designed and constructed to the necessary standards and only after comprehensive review and consultation.

Raising the speed limit to 110 km/h is subject to the review finding the increase is safe and appropriate. It also requires technical and safety reviews and public consultation to be carried out through a Speed Management Plan.

The Director of Land Transport at Waka Kotahi must also be satisfied the road can be safely maintained and operated at a higher speed. 

Emma Speight says the aim is to wrap this work into the State Highway Speed Management Plan 2024-27. 

“This means we should be able to release a decision later in 2024. If approved by the Director of Land Transport, we can then begin implementing any changes,” Ms Speight says.

Transmission Gully

While Te Aranui o Te Rangihaeata – Transmission Gully is also built to the same high safety and operational standards, and early indications are that the crash numbers reflect the same improvement in safety, its speed management review will not start until its remaining project works are finished. 

Technical and safety reviews and public consultation would also need to be completed before any increase to its posted speed limit could be considered.