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Work wrapping up on new King Country roundabout

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The NZ Transport Agency says a new roundabout designed to improve safety at a high-risk King Country intersection will be finished this week.

The roundabout at Hangatiki replaces a T-intersection where State Highway 3 (SH3) meets State Highway 37 (SH37) - the gateway to the world-famous Waitomo Caves. 

The Transport Agency’s principal safety engineer Michelle Te Wharau says contractors are putting the finishing touches on the roundabout and it is expected to be complete by Thursday June 11. 

“Despite the heavy rain, the roundabout has really taken shape over the past few weeks and the finish line is in sight,” she says. 

“A final safety inspection will be carried out on Wednesday and we expect to open it up later that day or on Thursday.” 

Work started on the $3.6 million project in January 2015. Along with the roundabout, part of SH37 was realigned, and a right-hand turn bay built to increase safety for people turning into Mangarino Road. 

Mrs Te Wharau says the roundabout project is part of the Transport Agency’s push to help create a transport system that is increasingly free of deaths and serious injuries. 

“To achieve this, we take a ‘Safe System’ approach, looking across the entire road system to improve safety by creating safer roads and roadsides, safer speeds, safer vehicles and safer road use,” she says. 

“The Safe System approach also recognises that people make mistakes and are vulnerable in a crash, and aims to reduce the price paid for a mistake so crashes don't result in death or serious injuries. 

“At this site the roundabout will naturally slow traffic and reduce the chance of a head-on or side impact crash, which can be the cause of death or serious injury if someone makes a mistake on the road.” 

Mrs Te Wharau says the Transport Agency worked closely with the Waitomo District Council, police, other road safety partners and the community to identify the best way to improve the intersection following a number of serious crashes.  

“This project was not a simple one and we know it has been trying for the local community who have had to drive through the work site,” she says. 

“However long term, we believe it will be worth it. This roundabout and the other improvements we have made will make a significant difference to safety in this area. 

“We are delighted this project is almost complete and we would like to thank everyone for their input and patience over the past five months.” 

More information the Safe System approach and other initiatives can be found on: http://www.saferjourneys.govt.nz/(external link)

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