Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is set to announce refined safety improvement concepts for key intersections on State Highway 3 between Waitara and Bell Block by August, subject to Waka Kotahi Board approval.
In recent months, Waka Kotahi has been undertaking work to develop several new options for improving De Havilland Drive/Airport Drive, Princess Street, Waitara Road, and SH3A (Mountain Road) intersections on SH3.
New preferred roundabout concepts have now been identified for each intersection and will be shared with the public by August, subject to receiving approval from the Waka Kotahi Board.
This process has been undertaken after Waka Kotahi found it would take a number of years to progress the roundabout concepts from the 2018 business cases to construction due to the significant land, stormwater infrastructure and funding requirements associated with them.
The new concepts will achieve the safety benefits outlined in the 2018 business cases and support residential growth in the area, while significantly reducing the impact on roadside properties.
Historic stormwater options are also being worked through with New Plymouth District Council to improve overall land drainage. This will allow more rapid progress to be made.
Director of Regional Relationships Linda Stewart acknowledges the high number of deaths and serious injuries on this stretch of road and the community’s desire to see improvements made quickly.
“We know waiting longer to improve this road is unacceptable, so we have undertaken this process to identify new concepts for the intersections that we can commence construction of sooner.
“Our aim is to start construction of the first roundabout at the end of this year, but our ability to do this is highly dependent on us securing additional funding and obtaining land and resource consents.
“There has been no change to the $29m previously committed towards this project. However, further funding is required to complete the works.
Ms Stewart says Waka Kotahi recognises the huge community interest in this important safety work but has been limited in what information it could share while it worked through the process.
“We know this has led to some speculation about the status of the project and we’re pleased to be in a position now where we can provide the community with accurate information about the work we’ve been doing behind the scenes to ensure we can get these important safety improvements in place faster.”
In recent months, investigations of the road strength and locating of services for the roundabouts at all four intersections have been undertaken.
In February 2019, a passing lane between Mahoetahi Road and Raleigh Street was removed to increase safety. Further safety improvements were made between Bayly Street and Raleigh Street at Waitara in February this year. The southbound passing lane at Brixton Hill was removed and new wide centrelines were marked between Bayly Street and Raleigh Street at Waitara. The wide centrelines will provide space for median barrier to be installed once roundabouts are built, and help reduce head-on crashes by better separating traffic, in the meantime.
Following public consultation, new safer speed limits were implemented on two sections of the route in December 2020, making the speed limit a consistent 80km/h between Waitara and Bell Block.
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