North Canterbury off-ramp gets revamp in the New Year


North Canterbury drivers who use the Tram Road/SH1 intersection just north of the Waimakariri River will see major changes underway to make the off-ramp safer for all road users from early next year, says NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi (NZTA).

The Waimakariri District has grown fast since the Christchurch earthquakes, exacerbating traffic issues on the side roads connecting to SH1.

“New traffic signals will be installed at the Tram Road off-ramp to improve the safety, efficiency and capacity of the right turn towards Kaiapoi,” says NZTA Principal Project Manager Brendon French.

“We will be altering the free left turn to improve the safe merging space for drivers on Tram Road. This includes relocating existing light poles on Tram Road and the pole near Griegs Road so that the merge lane can work more effectively.”

New kerb and channel is being installed and the free left hand turn extended.

A two-metre-wide cycle lane will be installed around the free left turn on Tram Road. The cycle lane will go through the traffic island to provide a safe crossing point for people on bikes travelling westbound (towards Ohoka) along Tram Road. Without this feature, cyclists would be riding between the straight through and merge lanes, creating danger for themselves and confusion for the accelerating merging vehicle drivers.

“This intersection has seen a number of crashes including fatality and serious injury crashes over the past ten years as the population of North Canterbury grew after the Christchurch earthquakes.”

Waimakariri District Council Mayor Dan Gordon is also looking forward to the safer off-ramp at Tram Road. “This issue was first raised with our Council following a serious accident a few years ago. I sought a meeting with NZTA to raise the issue and it’s great to see this long-standing safety issue being addressed. We know this will be welcomed by the wider community.”

The off-ramp traffic signals and other changes will mean:

  • drivers will more confidently be able to turn safely right from the off-ramp at Tram Road
  • traffic queuing back onto the motorway will be reduced with a more efficient right-hand turn
  • merging like a zip will be achievable on the left turn slip lane from the off-ramp to Tram Road, avoiding near-misses and drivers stopping on Tram Road
  • currently when vehicles come up the off-ramp to turn right towards Kaiapoi, the limit line means drivers visibility to the right is of the overbridge handrailing. The traffic lights will mitigate this risk.

The work will take up to four months, potentially starting late January 2024.

Traffic Control Systems is the lead contractor for this project with Isaac Construction doing the pavement surfacing and some kerb and channel. The contract is worth around $1.4 million.

Emergency services will have access at all times.

Crash data

There have been 19 crashes recorded at this intersection over the past nearly 11 years, one resulting in serious injuries, three minor injury crashes and 15 non-injury crashes.

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