Work will get underway within the next few weeks building new on-and-off ramps for the Northern Motorway at the Lineside Road (State Highway 71)/Smith Street interchange, near Kaiapoi.
Planning for the $4.6 million project began almost five years ago, in conjunction with a review of the Pineacres intersection, to look at ways to improve safety along this stretch of the highway by improving access to the motorway.
The NZ Transport Agency’s Canterbury/West Coast State Highway Manager Colin Knaggs says there are currently limited options for accessing the motorway when heading north from Kaiapoi. “A number of different proposals were developed and the community was extensively consulted on what they felt would provide the best access.
“What we wanted to achieve was better access to the motorway that improved safety for all road users and to look at ways to provide a gateway access to Kaiapoi for motorists travelling in from the north. The Smith Street off-ramp will also help with the redevelopment and rejuvenation of the Kaiapoi town centre.
“Kaiapoi is the first town on the motorway to the north of Christchurch, and together with Rangiora, it has experienced rapid growth in recent years. The population is expected to continue to grow as earthquake-affected Christchurch residents look to move out of the city to rebuild their homes,” he says.
“With this in mind, and growing traffic volumes using the northern motorway, we needed to find a solution which gave easy access to and from Kaiapoi and helped reduce the number of traffic movements at Pineacres where vehicles looking to travel north have to cross in front of high volumes of on-coming traffic travelling at speeds of 100km/h.”
Mr Knaggs says the new road layout and traffic signals on the Lineside Road (SH71)/Smith Street interchange will make it safer for traffic to exit and enter the motorway, as well as improving cyclist safety. “With the new ramps, Lineside Road (SH71)/Smith Street will become an important interchange serving the northern section of the 10.2 km motorway which was built in the 1960s.”
Construction of the ramps is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Following the completion of the Lineside Road Interchange, he says the NZTA will look to undertake additional improvements at the Pineacres intersection, as funding permits. This work is likely to include the widening of the existing road and the construction of islands at the intersection to improve lane separation.