Safety improvement works to begin on SH5 Napier-Taupō Road


Work begins next week on a range of safety improvements on State Highway 5 Napier – Taupō Road between Eskdale and Waipunga.

The safety improvements will see the road shoulder and centreline widened at a number of sites; improving the safety of the slow vehicle bay at Tarawera; the installation of new roadside safety barriers at high-risk curves in the road and new road marking.

Crews will be on site from Monday (15 January) for earthworks as they prepare to widen the road as part of the project.

While crews are working on the road, there will be temporary speed restrictions and stop/go traffic management in place at some sites.

NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi Project Manager Chris Mahoney says this work on SH5 is an important part of making this stretch of road safer, as work has continued post-cyclone to rebuild and strengthen the state highway.

“It’s crucial that alongside the recovery and rebuild work, we continue to develop a safer stretch of road for the communities in the area and thousands of people who use the road every day. Creating safer bays for slower-travelling vehicles to pull to the side; more roadside safety barriers and wider shoulders and centrelines are a large part of that solution,” says Mr Mahoney.

“In making the decision to install these safety improvements, NZTA took onboard feedback from communities and motorists using the road, and we looked at the evidence around deaths and serious injuries on SH5. Between 2015 and 2022, there were 13 fatal and 60 serious crashes on the SH5 Napier to Taupō road, which led to a total of 110 people being either killed or seriously injured. 

According to these statistics, the biggest factors contributing to the crashes were speed, fatigue, alcohol and other distractions.

The safety improvement work is expected to be completed late April/early May.

This work builds on the summer maintenance season which has now restarted for the year.

Transport Rebuild East Coast (TREC) crews are back working at a number of other sites on the state highway, on pothole repairs, resealing and line marking.

TREC Journey Manager for Hawke’s Bay, Andre Taylor, says as a result, people driving SH5 in the next few months will travel through a number of work sites.

“Please expect delays while this work is carried out and factor these into your journey times.

“Crews really appreciate the support they’re getting from passing motorists, who understand they’re doing their jobs(external link) to keep SH5 safe and up to scratch for everyone who uses it,” says Mr Taylor.

“Crews are there to make everyone’s journey safer while traffic management is in place. If crews are being threatened and abused, we have to stop work in order to keep them safe – which means the job takes longer to complete, with more delays for drivers.”

Details of the safety improvement work

  • Glengarry to Eskdale. Shoulder widening and installation of roadside safety barriers at high-risk curves at the intersection of SH5 and Marshall’s Bridge, and south of Dillon’s Hill.
  • Waipunga to Te Hāroto. Widening of the centreline and road shoulder and installation of roadside safety barriers and rumble strips at the Tarawera slow vehicle bay.
  • Te Hāroto to Glengarry. Widening the centreline and road shoulder and installation of roadside safety barriers to improve safety at high-risk curves on SH5 near Te Pōhue, south of the passing lane.