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SH1 Taupō Airport to Turangi speed limits

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Project introduction

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has set new permanent speed limits for sections of SH1 from Taupō Airport through to Turangi, in the Waikato region.

  • Project type

    Speed review

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Background

Between October and November 2019, Waka Kotahi consulted with stakeholders and the public on the safe and appropriate speeds for sections SH1 from Taupō Airport through to Turangi, in the Waikato region.

Waka Kotahi is always looking for ways to improve the safety of our roads. This route is identified as a high risk roads. The current speed limits are generally 100km/h through the rural sections of the corridor and 70km/h through the various settlements such as Waitahanui and Motuoapa. There are numerous roadside hazards along the route such as large trees and roadside drains, including a particularly winding and tortuous section adjacent to Lake Taupō north of Motutere.

This section of SH1 forms part of the main north-south spine of the state highway network and is used to shift freight and people from one end of the North Island to the other, and the various locations in between. It is also used by people commuting between Taupō and Turangi and various other settlements along the eastern lake edge. For many, SH1 is also the ‘street’ they live on and the place they call home. During holiday periods there is a significant increase in the number of people in the area, including holidaymakers, cyclists, anglers, boaties and campervans visiting the various rest areas, camping grounds and holiday homes dotted along the lake’s edge.

New permanent speed limits

From 12 October 2020, new permanent speed limits will come into effect on SH1 from Waitahanui (south of Taupō) to Turangi.

Location Current speed limit New speed limit from 12 October 2020
Waitahanui, 1.33km north of Hurae Road to 80m south of Wairau Avenue 70km/h

60km/h with variable speed limit of 40km/h

The variable speed limit will lower the speed limit from 60km/h outside the school to 40km/h at peak school traffic times which are:

  • 35 minutes before the start of school until the start of school, and
  • 20 minutes at the end of school, beginning no earlier than five minutes before the end of school
  • it may also operate for 10 minutes at any other time when there is school-related activity.

The variable speed limit will be displayed on electronic signs located outside the school at 470m north of Hurae Road and 120m north of Hurae Road.

Hatepe to Halletts Bay, 240m north of Rereahu Avenue to 3.075km south of Rereahu Road, Hatepe 100km/h 80km/h
Halletts Bay to Motutere, 3.075km south of Rereahu Road, Hatepe to 160m south of Waitapu Road, Motutere 100km/h 60km/h
Motutere to Waitetoko, 160m south of Waitapu Road, Motutere to 130m north of Rawhira Road, Waitetoko 100km/h 80km/h
Waitetoko to Oruatua, 130m north of Rawhira Road, Waitetoko to 170m south of Oruatua Avenue, Te Rangiita 100km/h and 70km/h 60km/h
Motuoapa, 140m north of Rangimoana Avenue to 130m south of Parekarangaranga Street, Motuoapa 80km/h 60km/h
Motuoapa to Turangi, 130m south of Parekarangaranga Street, Motuoapa to 280m south of Waiotaka Road, Turangi 100km/h 80km/h
Turangi, 230m south of Waiotaka Road to 345m south of Te Arahori Street, Turangi 80k/h 60km/h

Two sections of SH1 in this region were not included in the speed review. These were:

  • Waitahanui to Hatepe, 80m south of Wairau Avenue, Waitahanui to 240m north of Rereahu Avenue, Hatepe.
  • Oruatua to Motuoapa, 170m south of Oruatua Avenue, Te Rangiita to 140m north of Rangimoana Avenue, Motuoapa.

Taupō Airport to Waitahanui safety barrier

During consultation, it was proposed to reduce the speed limit between Taupō Airport and Waitahanui from 100km/h to 80km/h. Waka Kotahi is currently considering installing a central median barrier from the Taupō Airport roundabout to the northern end of Waitahanui. The speed will remain at 100km/h whilst this is being investigated. If this section of the highway is made safer by installing a safety barrier, it could mean the safe and appropriate speed can remain at 100km/h. Waka Kotahi will continue to update the community and road users about the safety barrier project and the final decision on this speed limit change as we work through the process.

Flexible road safety (median) barriers

Additional safety improvements in Waitahanui

In addition to reducing the speed limit through Waitahanui to 60km/h, a variable speed limit in the Te Kura o Waitahanui school zone will be installed adjacent to Te Kura o Waitahanui that will lower the speed limit to 40km/h during peak school times.

The variable speed limit will:

  • lower the speed limit from 60km/h outside the school to 40km/h at peak school traffic times
    • 35 minutes before the start of school until the start of school, and
    • 20 minutes at the end of school, beginning no earlier than five minutes before the end of school
    • it may also operate for 10 minutes at any other time when there is school-related activity.

The variable speed limit will be displayed on electronic signs located outside the school at 470m north of Hurae Road and 120m north of Hurae Road. Installation of the electronic signage and other improvements to the road near the school will be completed at the same time as the new speed limit signage is installed, 12 October 2020.

There are other safety improvements planned in Waitahanui including widening the school entrance, upgrading footpaths and road markings, taking out roadside hazards such as a power pole, replacing school warning signs and making the road safer to cross outside the school. These are scheduled to take place over the summer.

Investigation and evidence

When determining the proposed speed limits that we consulted on, we reviewed the speeds that people are currently driving on this road, as well as the road itself. Speed limits of 60km/h and 80km/h were assessed to be the safe and appropriate speeds for the majority of the route that formed part of this speed review.

Other factors reviewed and considered were the increase in traffic volumes including heavy vehicles, domestic and international tourism and the current road and roadside environments along the corridor that do not match the various existing speed limits.

Crash history

Between 2009 and 2018, there were 226 crashes on this stretch of state highway. Eight people were killed and a further 30 people were seriously injured.

There are numerous roadside hazards along the route such as large trees and roadside drains, including a particularly winding and tortuous section north of Motutere. There are a diverse range of vehicles and people using this stretch of SH1, including trucks shifting freight, commuters, holiday makers, international tourists and cyclists. For many, SH1 is also the ‘street’ they live on and the place they call home. With such a mixture of users and reasons for travelling along this route there is the ever-present risk of crashes occurring.

No matter what causes a crash, speed is always a factor in the severity. Put simply, the speed of impact can be the difference between walking away or being carried away from a crash. Lower permanent speed limits are therefore needed to reduce the number of crashes and resulting deaths and serious injuries.

Travel times

Over the entire route, from Taupō to Turangi, the new permanent speed limits are expected to increase travel times on average by one minute and 30 seconds. Many people over-estimate the time they would lose if they drove at a slower speed. When you factor in things like congestion travel times don’t vary as much as you think when a speed limit is reduced. Based on existing mean travel times, the new permanent speed limits are expected to have minimal impact on travel times for those using this stretch of SH1.

Increasing safety can also improve journey times. Many of us have been on our roads when there has been a serious crash. These traumatic crashes cause significant physical and emotional harm and they also create additional costs and delays for other road users. When a serious accident requires this stretch of SH1 to be closed, the only alternative route via SH32 and 41, is much longer and more arduous to drive.

Frequently asked questions

Find out more about the SH1 Taupō Airport to Turangi permanent speed limits by reading the frequently asked questions.

Frequently asked questions

Consultation and submissions

Public consultation closed on 22 November 2019. 120 submissions were received during the consultation period from stakeholder organisations and the public.

Consultation summary report [PDF, 1.3 MB]
Consultation submissions [PDF, 507 KB]

How speed reviews work

More information about speed and the speed review process is available on the Speed Review Programme webpage.

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