They may look like piles of dirt right now, but a potentially life-saving road safety measure by the NZ Transport Agency is taking shape near Paengaroa.
If you’re driving from Tauranga to Paengaroa, you can get a glimpse of large amounts of earth being moulded by diggers to create what will be the new, safer Paengaroa roundabout at the eastern end of the Tauranga Eastern Link (TEL). At 58 metres in diameter (equivalent to five street light poles laid end to end) the roundabout marks a big step towards addressing safety concerns at this busy intersection.
The current State Highway 2 (SH2) and State Highway 33 (SH33) intersection is a renowned crash spot, says the Transport Agency, with most crashes caused by drivers failing to stop and check that the intersection is clear. The Paengaroa roundabout has been designed to reduce this risk and drivers will be able to enjoy the safety benefits first-hand when it opens next year.
“We know this intersection has a poor crash history, it was confirmed as one of the most dangerous intersections in the Bay earlier this year”, says the Transport Agency’s Highways Manager, Brett Gliddon.
“This safety overhaul will help to prevent death and serious injury, and the public will be very pleased to see work well underway to make their journeys safer.”
The TEL will not only provide an economic benefit to the Bay, Brett Gliddon says, but one of the overwhelming advantages of this 23km of new road is the fact that it addresses the poor crash history along the entire TEL route from Te Maunga to Paengaroa.
With two lanes of traffic in all directions and a proposed permanent speed limit of 80 km/h, the new Paengaroa roundabout adheres strongly to the Transport Agency’s commitment to reducing deaths and serious injuries on our roads.
“We’re aiming to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads we know that roundabouts force drivers to slow down and have shown to reduce the number of crashes at intersections.”
Mr Gliddon says that while the roundabout will significantly improve safety at this intersection, it’s important to stress that all intersections carry an element of risk and he urges drivers to be extra vigilant at all intersections.
“While engineering can improve the safety of intersections, everyone needs to share responsibility for road safety, and we simply can’t underestimate the role that safer driver behaviour, safer speeds and safer vehicles play in reducing the terrible cost of road trauma.”
The next step for the new roundabout which will open in autumn next year is tying in the new highway and the current SH2 and SH33 roads to it, says Brett Gliddon.
Mr Gliddon says disruption to motorists is expected to remain minimal, but the Agency is grateful for the public's patience and understanding"
The four-lane Tauranga Eastern Link will run from Te Maunga (near Baypark Stadium) in Tauranga to the existing junction of State Highways 2 and 33 (the Rotorua and Whakatane highways) near Paengaroa. It will be made up of 17km of new road and an upgrade of six kilometres of existing highway. The new highway is expected to open to traffic in late 2015.
The Government has identified seven essential state highway projects linked to New Zealand’s economic prosperity. Called the roads of national significance, or RoNS for short, the NZTA is charged with delivering this programme of state highway improvements within the next 10 years. The RoNS programme represents one of New Zealand’s biggest ever infrastructure investments and is a key part of the Government’s National Infrastructure Plan and Government’s Policy Statement for transport.
The seven RoNS projects are based around New Zealand's five largest population centres. The focus is on moving people and freight between and within these centres more safely and efficiently. Other RoNS may be added in future but currently from north to south the seven projects are: Puhoi to Wellsford - SH1, Completing the Western Ring Route, Auckland - SH16, SH18 and SH20, Victoria Park Tunnel, Auckland - SH1, Waikato Expressway - SH1, Tauranga Eastern Link - SH2, Wellington Northern Corridor - SH1, Christchurch Motorways. More information is available at www.nzta.govt.nz/rons(external link).