The NZ Transport Agency has awarded Downer a $5.25 million contract to build a roundabout on State Highway 2 Te Puna, with work expected to start in May.
The two-lane roundabout will replace the Te Puna/ Minden Road intersection just north of Tauranga, significantly improving safety for motorists travelling on the route.
Subject to approvals and property purchase, preliminary works are due to start in May.
The work will be split over two construction seasons and the roundabout is expected to be complete in mid-2017.
The Transport Agency’s acting Bay of Plenty highways manager, Chris Young, says the new roundabout will make it safer and easier to travel as traffic increases on SH2.
“Roundabouts naturally slow traffic and reduce the chance of head on or side impact crashes, reducing the risk of death or serious injury if someone makes a mistake and crashes,” Mr Young says.
“Our data shows that changing a T-intersection to a roundabout reduces death and serious injury crashes by 90 per cent, while the total number of crashes reduces between 25 to 80 percent.”
The total cost of the project including preliminary works and property purchase is $7.5 million.
The Te Puna Memorial Hall will be deconstructed later this year to make way for the new roundabout, with the Transport Agency working closely with the Hall Committee and Western Bay of Plenty District Council on providing a suitable alternative.
Mr Young says the roundabout is part of a $12 million package of works that have been rolled out to boost safety on SH2 while the Transport Agency finalises a long term plan for the route.
“The majority of crashes on this road are head-on and run off road” he says.
“While we cannot necessarily prevent someone making a mistake and having a crash we can create a more forgiving road environment so that people don’t pay for a mistake with their lives.
“This has been our focus over the past two years, with more than $5 million invested on safety improvements on SH2 between Bethlehem and Waihi.
“We have installed 10km of guard rail to prevent run-off road crashes, improved visibility at intersections by removing trees and other hazards and installed wide centre lines which are proved to reduce the risk of head on crashes.
“We have also been working with Police to educate motorists, as driver distraction is behind many of the crashes on this route.”
Mr Young says State Highway 2 from Pokeno to Waihi is a major focus for the Transport Agency over the next few years.
“The goal is to improve safety and deliver more reliable travel times on this route. However, any changes need to meet the strategic direction of the corridor and the region, supporting growth and development,” he says.