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Increasing safety on State Highway 57, Horowhenua

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The NZ Transport Agency will begin work mid-year on making State Highway 57, from State Highway 1 to Shannon, safer for everyone who uses it.

The safety improvements will be carried out in two stages. The first stage of the work will be on the highway between Heatherlea East Road and Shannon, Horowhenua.

The second stage of the work will be coordinated with the Ōtaki to north of Levin section of the Wellington northern corridor, one of the Government’s roads of national significance.

Ross I'Anson, NZ Transport Agency Highway Manager says stakeholders such as the Road Transport Association, local authorities and community groups have been asked what they think is needed to make the road safer. This input helped decide on the first stage of the safety improvements .

Eight people have died on this section of the highway in the 10 years to 2015 and 39 have been seriously injured.

“Traffic volumes in the area have also been growing steadily and we calculate they will increase by around two per cent each year,” Mr I’Anson says. “By using internationally proven approaches, we can make this road safer and more forgiving of human error.”

The most common types of crashes on this stretch of highway involve vehicles crossing the centreline, head-on crashes, losing control on bends and running off the road, and hitting hazards such as trees, power poles and ditches.

When the first stage of the safety improvement work is complete, parts of the road will have:

  • flexible roadside safety barriers to prevent vehicles hitting hazards
  • wider centrelines to provide greater separation between vehicles travelling in opposite directions
  • rumble strips to give distracted drivers a wake-up call if they stray across the white line
  • a wider sealed shoulder at the side of the road to give recovery room for drivers who drift out of their lane or lose control.

Mr I’Anson says the shoulder width of the highway will be retained and, where possible, it will be improved to allow vehicles to pull safely off the traffic lane on many sections of the highway.

The safety improvements for State Highway 57 are part of the $600 million nationwide road safety programme announced by Transport Minister Simon Bridges in June 2016. This programme is part of the Government’s Safer Journeys road safety strategy.

Safe Roads was set up to deliver the road safety programme on rural state highways within six years. Safety improvements are being added to high-risk rural state highways throughout the country as part of the Safe Roads and Roadsides Programme. Safe Roads is an alliance comprising the NZ Transport Agency, Beca, Northern Civil Consulting and Bloxham, Burnett and Olliver (BBO).

Safer Journeys is the Government’s strategy to guide improvements in road safety from 2010 through to 2020. Safer Journeys takes a Safe System approach, looking across the entire road system to improve safety by creating safer roads and roadsides, safer speeds, safer vehicles and safer road use.

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