State Highway 2 gets further boost for safety improvements


State Highway 2 (SH2) between Waihī and Ōmokoroa is set to become safer for everyone with the installation of flexible median barriers and an upgrade to an additional six intersections between Tetley Road and Esdaile Road.

Waka Kotahi Director of Regional Relationships David Speirs says the majority of deaths and injuries can be avoided by making relatively simple, yet effective changes to this section of road. 

“There are many reasons crashes happen and we need a mix of solutions that all work together to keep people safe. We need everyone making safe choices, in safe vehicles, on safe roads and travelling at safe speeds.

Work to improve this 40km corridor, including road and shoulder widening, installing a wide centreline, roadside safety barriers in high-risk areas, and intersection improvements, has been underway since 2019. The safety of the road will now be boosted further with the addition of the new safety improvements, which are part of our Road to Zero strategy.

“We know there is a lot to do across this stretch of SH2 and we cannot do it all at once. This rapidly growing region is undergoing significant investment, and it will take us time to implement all that is needed.

“It is great to have confirmed funding for this additional infrastructure that will undoubtedly save lives and build on the work being done along this corridor and we know this is already making a difference to local people,” says Mr Speirs.

“The reason the flexible median barrier is important along this stretch is because head-on crashes make up 32 per cent of the deaths and serious injuries (DSI) on SH2.  Flexible median barriers are the safest barrier if someone hits them. If something goes wrong, flexible barriers will catch the vehicle and prevent a crash into an on-coming vehicle, says Mr Speirs.

“Our modelling tells us that installing flexible median barrier will reduce these sad and avoidable events by a massive 72 per cent.”

People will start to see activity at the Rea Road/Tetley Road intersection, south of Katikati before the end of February. A roundabout will be constructed here and is part of the original project scope.

A second roundabout at Morton Road intersection is in the design stage and construction is expected to begin mid-2022. The team is now working through programming for the remaining roundabouts at Sharp Road, Lockington/Matahui Roads, Apata Station Road and Esdaile/Pahoia Roads.

The inclusion of flexible median barrier was proposed early on as a safety enhancement to the current widening works and has undergone several stages of public consultation.

“We have heard the underlying concern from residents around journey inconvenience, as well as feedback about how much safer they now feel because of the widening works.

“A median barrier will mean people may not be able to make a right turn from their driveways or side road. Yes, this is inconvenient, although safety for everyone remains our priority,” says Mr Speirs.

Waka Kotahi thanks everyone for their patience as we continue to make SH2 safer.

Road closure at Rea Road/Tetley Road – mid-February for eight weeks

A roundabout will be built at the intersection of SH2 and Rea Road/Tetley Road, approximately 2.5km south of Katikati. This will be a four-leg, 38m diameter with slow vehicle passing bays on exit of SH2 north and south. Constructing a roundabout on an operational highway is a challenging task. We will keep traffic moving, although there will be some inconvenience. 

As part of this work, a section of Tetley Road, including the SH2 intersection, will be closed between SH2 and Rereatukahia Pā Road for approximately eight weeks between mid-February and mid-April 2022. People wanting to access Tetley Road during this time will detour through Marshall Road in Katikati. The route will be sign posted and additional travel time is estimated to be one to two minutes.

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Additional information

Improving safety on New Zealand roads is a priority for Waka Kotahi. Road to Zero 2020-2030, New Zealand’s road safety strategy, tells us what New Zealand needs to do to make improvements in road safety. It sets us on a path to achieve Vision Zero, a New Zealand where no one is killed or seriously injured on our roads.

Road to Zero sets an initial target to reduce deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand’s roads, streets, cycleways and footpaths by 40 percent over the next 10 years. 

Flexible median barriers and roundabouts

Flexible median barriers save lives. They are installed down the middle of a road to prevent head-on collisions, or along the edge of the road to stop run-off-road crashes.

Flexible road safety barriers catch vehicles that leave their lane. If you hit a flexible barrier, the steel cables flex, slowing down your vehicle and keep it upright. They absorb the impact so you and the people with you, don’t. They prevent you from being deflected to the other side of the road, potentially hitting another vehicle, or trees, poles or deep ditches on the roadside.

Flexible road safety barriers are a good fit for our roads. They’re narrow and work best on long, straight sections and gentle curves. Most importantly, they’re the safest barrier if someone does hit them. This is a cost-effective infrastructure treatment, and on a normal two-lane undivided highway the barrier can reduce the deaths and injuries in crashes by 75 percent.

Roundabouts reduce approach speeds and help allow traffic from side roads to access the highway. Roundabouts significantly reduce the head-on and side impact crashes, and the low impact angles reduce injury severity when mistakes are made.

Rural roundabouts have an assumed death and serious injury reduction of 60 per cent. A recent case study of nine rural roundabout sites in October 2020 reported that the sites actually reduced fatal and serious crashes by 75 per cent.

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