The NZ Transport Agency is planning improvements to make State Highway 1 through the Dome Valley safer.
The proposed changes which will begin next year include widening the centre line and road side shoulders and installing flexible road safety barriers.
The 15km section of State Highway 1 from Wellsford to north of Warkworth is an important link between Northland and Auckland for commuters, freight and tourists but its steep slopes, unexpected corners and poor visibility make it difficult for people to drive safely.
17 people have died and another 42 have been seriously injured in the Dome Valley between 2005 and 2016. Most of the crashes were caused by drivers losing control and running off the road or crossing the centre line and hitting an oncoming vehicle.
“By creating wide centrelines we will reduce the risk of head on crashes by separating traffic, while safety barriers help catch out of control vehicles before they hit something less forgiving such as another vehicle or trees, poles or ditches,” says the Transport Agency’s System Design Manager, Brett Gliddon.
“We are also making the route safer for cyclists by creating a wide road side shoulder right through the Dome Valley.”
The shoulder will also continue at the top of the Dome where the northbound and southbound passing lanes will be replaced with wide shoulders to make the approach to the summit safer.
The wide shoulder will still allow lighter vehicles to pass safely and will be better suited to cars overtaking slower moving vehicles like trucks and buses. This technique has been used successfully in other parts of Northland including Bulls Gorge where there is no evidence it has impacted on efficiency or led to unsafe passing movements.
The project is part of the Government’s Safe Roads and Roadsides Programme underway to prevent people from dying or being seriously injured on our rural state highways.
“More than 10,000 vehicles travel through the Dome Valley every day, and with those numbers increasing we need to get these improvements underway now to reduce the risk of more people being hurt or killed in a crash.”
Plans for the improvements will be refined over the next few months, based on feedback from local communities with construction due to start in mid-2018.