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Straighter highway alignment to improve safety and reduce
travel times

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The completion of the NZ Transport Agency's Piarere to Oak Tree Bends Realignment project between the SH1/SH29 intersection at Piarere and Tirau township was celebrated with an official ribbon cutting earlier today.

The completion of the NZ Transport Agency’s Piarere to Oak Tree Bends Realignment project between the SH1/SH29 intersection at Piarere and Tirau township was celebrated with an official ribbon cutting earlier today.

The $10m realignment of State Highway 1 has improved road safety and travel times along a 4.2km section of SH1 in the South Waikato.

Taupo MP Hon. Louise Upston, together with South Waikato District Council Mayor Neil Sinclair and NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) State Highway Manager Kaye Clark, officially opened the new alignment today on behalf of the Minister of Transport, Hon. Steven Joyce.   

NZTA State Highway Manager Kaye Clark says the project has improved safety through a section of SH1 with a history of crashes by removing a series of 14 tight curves that were out of context with the 100km/h speed environment to the north and south.

The straightening of the highway has also enabled the project to deliver on the government’s priorities of encouraging economic growth and productivity by making this stretch of SH1 straighter and more efficient. This section of SH1 is the main route south from Auckland to Rotorua and Taupo and carries high volumes of freight and tourism traffic.

Mrs Clark said prior to the project, some of the tight corners had signposted speeds as low as 55km/h and the average speed through this high volume section of SH1 was 75km/h.

“Now that the project is complete, motorists can safely travel at 100km/h on the new alignment when conditions are good.”

Mrs Clark says the straightening of the highway presented the project team with some big challenges, but they rose to the occasion by completing the project on time and under budget.

One of the biggest challenges was the cutting back of a large 500 metre-long bluff, which stands 45m above the highway. A large deposit of boulders was discovered in the bluff face and these had to be removed. Some of the boulders were up to four metres in diameter. A second 300 metre-long bluff also had to be excavated.

Overall, 200,000m³ of material was excavated during this project, including 80,000 m³ of rock.

The project team also helped to further improve safety by turning an old section of SH1, which has now been bypassed by the new alignment, into a new truck pull-off area. This provides drivers with a safe place to pull over and rest and will help reduce the risk of fatigue-related crashes.

The project started in April 2008 and was completed in September 2009.

For more information please contact:

Julie Hannam
Regional Communications Advisor
T 64 07 958 7238
M  64 027 294 2649  
julie.hannam@nzta.govt.nz

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