A series of passing lanes on State Highway 3 (SH3) between Hamilton Airport and Te Awamutu will be removed from this month as the NZ Transport Agency works to improve safety on the route.
The stretch of highway is the only one in the country with passing lanes for north and southbound traffic side by side, without a median barrier and with access to properties.
Over the 10 years between 2004 and 2014 there have been a total of 126 crashes, resulting in five deaths and 10 serious injuries on the three stretches of highway within the project.
Transport Agency principal safety engineer Michelle Te Wharau said the work will see two four-lane sections remarked as three lanes creating room for flush central medians or wide center lines to separate oncoming traffic.
The work will be carried out in three stages starting from March 16. The new design allows for at least one passing lane opportunity every 5km.
“This work is all about creating a safer environment for road users,” Mrs Te Wharau says.
“The new layouts will provide greater separation between oncoming traffic and will have wider sealed shoulders,” she said.
“People will still have ample opportunities to pass and traffic turning into properties will have more room.”
The first section to be worked on is between the Ohaupo township and Jary Road from March 16. The work is expected to take three weeks and will be done at the same time as a scheduled reseal.
A short passing lane at the top of Taylors Hill just north of Te Awamutu will be removed during stage two of the project to improve safety and access to properties, followed by a four lane stretch between the Hamilton airport turn off and Ohaupo.
The start date for the final stage of the work will be confirmed later this month.
Mrs Te Wharau said the works were part of the Agency’s ongoing commitment to improving safety on the State Highway network.
She said similar work was carried out near Mason’s garden centre, north of Te Awamutu last year when a passing lane was removed and a flush median area created.
“Local support was positive right from the beginning as turning into side roads and entranceways along this section had been very difficult,” Mrs Te Wharau says.
Speed restrictions will be in place during the works and motorists are advised to expect minor delays when travelling.
The Transport Agency thanks motorists for the patience and understanding.
For real time information on highway conditions and incidents visit www.nzta.govt.nz(external link) call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS or follow @nztawaibop on twitter.
For personalised information about driving conditions on their frequently used routes, motorists can check out and sign up to On The Move at www.onthemove.govt.nz.(external link)
For more information please contact:
Waikato / Bay of Plenty Media Manager
T: 07 928 7908
M: 021 928 413