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Safer speeds for SH3 between Waitara and Bell Block – consultation now open

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Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is proposing changes to speed limits on State Highway 3 between Waitara and Bell Block, in addition to planned physical improvements to make the road safer.

Acting Director of Regional Relationships Ross I’Anson says making sure the speed limit is right is one of the best ways to make the road safer, because no matter what causes a crash, speed can be the difference between walking away or being carried away.

“There were 101 crashes on this route between 2009 and 2018. Seven people died and 14 people were seriously injured.

“We’ve been speaking with locals, council, emergency services and transport representative groups like the AA about the issues with this road. Many people we spoke to said the inconsistent speed limits along the route are confusing, so we are proposing to make the speed limit 80km/h along the entire route.”

Following the commitment of $29m in funding for safety improvements on this road in November 2018, urgent works started in February this year, with the removal of a passing lane between Mahoetahi Rd and Raleigh street.

Further safety improvements will get underway towards the end 2020.

The Transport Agency has partnered with New Plymouth District Council to build a new roundabout on SH3 at De Havilland Drive, providing motorists with safer access to the airport following the realignment of Airport Drive. 

New roundabouts will also be constructed at Princess Street, Waitara, and SH3a. The roundabouts will make these intersections, which are listed in the county’s top 100 high-risk intersections, safer and help ease congestion on the route. They will be built over three construction seasons to help reduce the impact on traffic and residents, with construction of the first roundabout scheduled to get underway at the end of 2020.

Sections of roadside and median barriers will also be installed in high-risk areas and the road will be widened in places to give drivers more space to recover if they lose control and run off the road. 

Mr I’Anson says the Transport Agency and New Plymouth District Council are committed to making the road between Waitara and Bell Block safer as quickly as possible.

“This road carries a combination of commuter, tourist and long-haul freight traffic and provides access to the New Plymouth Airport and the Port, but too many people are being killed and injured in crashes.

“It is already one of the busiest roads in the region and future development in Bell Block and Waitara and increased tourism to the area will mean more vehicles on the road, increasing the risk of crashes.

“A safe, consistent speed limit, along with the other planned safety improvements, will help make this road safer for everyone.”

The Transport Agency is now formally consulting with stakeholders and the public on its proposals to change speed limits along SH3 between Waitara and Bell Block. Consultation runs from 18 November to 15 December 2019.

Feedback will be considered by the Transport Agency before it makes decisions on these proposed speed limit changes.

This speed review is part of the Safe Network Programme – a $1.4b programme delivering safety improvements on high-risk routes across New Zealand to make roads more forgiving of people’s mistakes. The programme focuses on safe roads and roadsides, safe and appropriate speeds, and safe rail level crossings.

What is being proposed?

Location Current speed limit Proposed new speed limit Average speed on this route
Mahoetahi Rd intersection to Waitara
From the existing 80/100km/h speed limit change point, located 360m north-east of the Mahoetahi Road/SH3 intersection to the existing 80/100km/h speed limit change point located 400m south-west of the Princess Street/SH3 intersection. A length of 4.3km.
100km/h 80km/h 85–89km/h
Waitara to Bayly St intersection
From the existing 80/100km/h speed limit change point, located 430m north-east of the Princess Street/SH3 intersection to 300m east of the Bayley Street/SH3 intersection. A length of 0.9km.
100km/h 80km/h 85–89km/h

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