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South Canterbury intersection at Rangitata made safer

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Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is installing an Intersection Speed Zone* at the intersection of SH1 and SH79 in Rangitata, South Canterbury, to help prevent deaths and serious injuries.

The Intersection Speed Zone will use electronic signs to detect when someone is turning into or out of SH79 and will temporarily reduce the speed limit on SH1 from 100 km/h to 60km/h.

“By slowing down oncoming traffic, an Intersection Speed Zone helps prevent crashes and reduces the risk of someone being killed or seriously injured if a crash does happen,” says Jim Harland, Director Regional Relationships, Waka Kotahi.

Several steps, including testing the equipment over a number of weeks, need to be taken before everything is switched on and operational. This process can take a number of weeks.  Work to install the Intersection Speed Zone was delayed by the need to first remove power poles and add additional power lines to service this intersection.

People may notice activity around the intersection while installation is completed this week, having started at the weekend. Once the underlying control equipment has been tested and the legal process for road signs is completed, the sign will be made operational.

“The Intersection Speed Zone is part of a package of work that will make this intersection safer,” says Mr Harland. “In 2019, barrier arms, lights and bells were installed at the level crossing near this intersection, and the crossing surface was made safer.

“In May this year, a team widened the road shoulder on SH1 around the intersection, installed an escape bay near the level crossing and removed power poles. An escape bay is used in places where there is a risk of traffic backing up over a rail crossing and gives drivers a space to move into if they get blocked in on the rail line.

“A wider shoulder will give people more room to turn in and out of SH79, as it can be a tricky intersection with drivers turning onto or off a level crossing right beside a busy state highway.  Altogether, these improvements should remove some of the main risks with this intersection, helping to save lives.”

Improvements to this Rangitata intersection are part of the Safe Network 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 level crossings.

 * These “Intersection Speed Zones” which detect traffic coming from the side and flash a lower speed warning at the state highway traffic, used to be called Rural Intersection Activated Warning Signs or RIAWS. 

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