The Ohingaiti community today celebrated the completion of a $14m safety project that realigns 4km of highway and removes a notorious level crossing, making journeys safer and easier through the Rangitikei heartland.
Rangitikei MP Hon Simon Power today joined the NZ Transport Agency, members of the local community, and representatives of Ngäti Hauiti to unveil a carving at the southern end of the project today.
NZTA Regional State Highways Manager David McGonigal says the project has been completed ahead of schedule and under budget.
“This is a full safety makeover which straightens and eases 4km of highway while removing the difficult level crossing S-bend.”
‘We’ve been humbled by the support we’ve received from the community, iwi, and road users in helping us make journeys safer for everyone who relies on this critical route.”
The project replaces the level crossing, which involved a sharp S-bend and a speed reduction from 100km/h to 25km/h, with a road-over-rail overbridge so traffic can now travel safely over the railway, eliminating the risk of collisions with trains. The level crossing was the scene of a tragic double fatality in 2007.
It also replaces the winding road up Makohine Hill, which has been a crash blackspot due to several tight curves and a susceptibility to ice during winter, with a straighter, safer route through the new hill cutting.
Mr McGonigal said the cutting involved the removal of around half a million cubic metres of earth, which was put to good use making the rail overpass and completing the southern end of the project. The project also involved the careful diversion of the Makohine Stream.
Today’s ceremony involved the unveiling of a commemorative carving in the form of a waka by Ngäti Hauiti, to symbolise the traditional Maori means of transport down the nearby Rangitikei River. A plaque was also unveiled by the Institution of Professional Engineers of New Zealand to commemorate the landmark Makohine Rail Viaduct, which was built in 1893 and towers above Makohine Hill.