Updated 3 July 2023
Why do we need this project?
State Highway 1 between Whangārei and Port Marsden Highway has a poor safety record with a disproportionately high number of people seriously hurt or killed on the road.
Between 2015 and early 2020, 44 people were seriously hurt and 18 people were killed in crashes.
In urban Whangārei, 11 people were seriously hurt during this period – most of these crashes involved vulnerable road users – people walking and on bikes. With a lack of cycling infrastructure and generally narrow footpaths in the area, infrastructure for vulnerable users needs to be improved, especially alongside this busy section of SH1 to separate them from vehicles.
In the rural section (between Toetoe Road and Port Marsden Highway), 18 people lost their lives and 44 were seriously hurt in crashes between 2015 and early 2020. 75% of these crashes were a result of head-on collisions and vehicles crossing the centreline.
Installing centre median barriers prevents drivers from crossing the centreline and colliding with another vehicle and are highly effective in preventing people getting seriously hurt on our roads. Results show a 65% reduction in road fatalities wherever they are installed.
What is the current status of the project?
With $270M funding now confirmed for the project, we can move beyond the completed business case into detailed design which includes planning where and how the safety measures will be implemented, where the turnaround bays will be, what the shared path will look will and considering other measures such as raised speed platforms and traffic lights.
Confirming the detailed design will help us to understand property impacts as well as the consenting and procurement processes for the project.
We will continue to engage with key partners and stakeholders, including hapū, Local Council, and communities throughout the process.
What safety improvements will be made?
We are investigating several safety improvements planned to align with the government’s Road to Zero programme including:
- a flexible median barrier between Toetoe Road and Port Marsden Highway to separate north and south bound traffic. Flexible median barriers prevent head-on crashes, which is how most people are killed or seriously injured on our roads. They can reduce deaths and serious injuries by up to 65%
- turnaround bays to accommodate safe turning movements in the opposite direction
- investigating traffic lights at the Tauroa Street intersection to accommodate safer and more efficient turning movements into and out of this high traffic urban area
- a shared path to provide a safe and reliable travel option separated from vehicles for people walking, using mobility devices and on bikes
- investigating a signalised crossing near Otaika Shops to provide a safer crossing point for people walking and on bikes
- raised safety platforms at side streets near the SH1 intersection in urban Whangārei to slow vehicles down on the approach to the main road (where many people walking and on bikes cross the road)
- making road shoulders wider so it’s safer to pull over, and so there’s more room for people who cycle.
How long will the project take?
We expect to begin construction in late-2025 and finish in 2028. We anticipate the project will take three years to complete and will be carried out in stages to minimise disruption.
Projects of this size and scale require extensive design and planning and need the adequate amount of time to carry out several complex processes. This includes:
- confirming the project design
- engaging with hapū, key stakeholders, community and landowners to ensure feedback is utilised in the design process
- acquiring property which requires negotiation with affected landowners
- acquiring consents which requires preparing a detailed consent application, lodging this with local council and negotiating on consent conditions
- procuring the materials, machinery and people resource needed for the project.
Now that we have confirmed funding, we can continue progressing with the detailed design process which will include engaging with the community.
Safety improvements won’t be implemented for a few years. What is being done in the meantime?
As an interim safety intervention and to start saving lives as soon as possible, we will be installing flexible safety posts in the centre of the road between Toetoe Road and Port Marsden Highway. Construction will take approximately three months and will be phased to minimise disruption. We’re currently procuring for this work and expect it will be completed this year.
We will provide more information on an estimated project programme for both the long-term and short-term safety improvements in the coming months.
Can I give feedback on the project design?
Yes. Waka Kotahi will provide opportunities for the community to provide feedback on aspects of the project design including the shared path, location of turnaround bays and more to ensure the design is best suited to the communities it will serve.
We will provide more information about engagement and feedback opportunities in the coming months. We recommend signing up to our email database to receive updates about the project and details about these events.
Will there be traffic delays during construction?
Like any roading project, temporary speed limits, road cones and an increase in construction vehicles may cause some delays to your travel time. These things are in place to keep everyone safe – including our work crews and vehicles driving through the site.
We will do everything we can to minimise disruption to your journey during the construction period. This will include staging the work and utilising nightworks, contraflow traffic and other methods where possible.
We know that delays, detours, stoppages and temporary speed limits can be frustrating but there is a bigger picture which will result in a much safer road for everyone who uses it.
How will local roads and driveways access the state highway?
Installing a centre median barrier may require changes to the way people access home and businesses along the state highway, and left-in, left-out turning movements may be required.
Turning bays will be installed to accommodate safe turning movements in both directions. Drivers will travel a short distance to the nearest intersection to make a safe right turn for travel in the opposite direction.
Turnaround areas will be suitable for all modes of transport, including large trucks and freight.
Were roundabouts considered as part of the project?
Roundabouts significantly reduce speeds of vehicles on their approach which, while great from a safety perspective, does slow traffic down and can impact the efficiency of the road.
Roundabouts are also much more costly to implement due to the additional space they occupy to accommodate turning movements of all vehicle sizes. The cost required to implement roundabouts as intersection improvement options sits outside the scope of this project.
Will you be removing passing lanes to accommodate the flexible median barriers?
No, we won’t be removing any passing lanes. In fact, we’re investigating how we can make passing lanes safer and more efficient which may include extending their length in some areas.
Why centre median barriers?
The section of state highway between Whangārei and Port Marsden Highway has a high history of serious crashes. Most of the crashes on this stretch of the state highway have been caused either by head-on collisions or by people turning onto or off the highway.
Installing centre median barriers prevents drivers from crossing the centreline and colliding with another vehicle and are highly effective in preventing people getting seriously hurt on our roads. Results show a 70-80 per cent reduction in road fatalities wherever they are installed.
When a vehicle hits these barriers the high-tension wire cables flex, slowing down the vehicle and redirecting it away from the hazard. This flexibility means that the barrier absorbs the energy, reducing the force on the people in the vehicles, resulting in less severe injuries than other safety barrier systems and from collision with roadside hazards or other vehicles.
Click the link below to watch a recent video of flexible median barriers in action just down the road at Dome Valley.
How will a centre median barrier impact emergency services during an emergency response?
Emergency services will mostly be able to operate as normal with a centre median barrier installed as part of this project. Road shoulders will be widened to give vehicles a safe space to pull over and allow emergency services to pass.
In the case that an emergency services vehicle can’t pass another vehicle (eg: a truck carrying an over dimensional load), barriers can be lowered and driven over in emergency situations.
Will you put barriers on the bridges?
There are approximately 12 bridges through this section of SH1 which account for a very short distance of the 27km corridor. Due to the bridges narrow width median barriers can’t be put in.
Aren’t median barriers dangerous for motorcyclists?
Some motorcyclists oppose flexible road safety barriers as they believe the steel ropes will act as a ‘cheese cutter’ if hit by a rider.
Studies show the fear that the steel ropes will ‘slice’ motorcyclists is unfounded, and that flexible barriers are more forgiving than traditional steel barriers. Motorcyclists are more likely to survive an impact with a flexible road safety barrier than an impact with trees, poles or oncoming vehicles.
Crash data captured over a 12-year period shows out of 20 motorcycle fatalities sustained as a result of hitting a roadside or median barrier, just three involved flexible safety (wire rope) barriers. Over the same period there were 97 motorcycle fatalities from collisions with posts or poles, 70 from hitting traffic signs and 93 from crashing into unprotected trees.
Will flexible median barriers make the road narrower?
The road will be made wider than it is now in some areas. Where we put barriers in, we’ll also make sure the road is wide enough to accommodate them.
Will agricultural or over dimension vehicles still be able to use the road?
The widened road shoulder will mean there’s room for large or agricultural vehicles. We’ll also be leaving some gaps in the barrier, at driveway entrances and intersections, so that people driving large or wide vehicles can pull off the road completely.
What does the project mean for me and my property?
If you live alongside the state highway between Tarewa Road and Port Marsden Highway, we may need to purchase some of your land for the project.
We are working to minimise property impact and implement as many of the safety improvements within the existing road corridor. However, there will be instances that we will need to purchase land where the road needs to be widened or where turnaround facilities are implemented.
We will have more information on potential property impacts and will be in touch directly with impacted landowners before the end of 2023.
What happens if some of my land is required for the project?
Where property is required, the Public Works Act 1981 (PWA) provides for property owners to be fairly compensated. If you are affected, we will:
- meet and talk with you personally
- work with you to manage your concerns
- explain the support you are entitled to
- explain the relevant processes and your rights.
Our aim is to work constructively with you to reach an agreement wherever possible. Property negotiations are expected to commence in early 2024 once we have a confirmed design for the project and a better understanding of the project footprint.
If your land is impacted, Waka Kotahi will appoint an independent Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) accredited property consultant to work with you directly, they will ensure that the purchase negotiated is fair to you as the landowner, your tenant (if appropriate), and Waka Kotahi. Part of this process involves seeking independent valuation.
Where can I find more information about the Public Works Act 1981 and property acquisition process?
LINZ produce a guide for landowners, What to expect when your land is acquired under the Public Works Act 1981, to inform landowners of the process, their rights and the role of accredited suppliers in negotiations.
You can browse this information online or download a printable version.
How can I be involved in the Resource Management Act (RMA) process?
Waka Kotahi intends to lodge a Notice of Requirement (NoR) and resource consent application(s) in 2024. The applications are likely to be publicly notified, and if so, you will be able to make a formal submission through the RMA process. Note, a NoR is an interim notice that protects land for the designated purpose until the final decision whether to confirm the designation is made by the requiring authority.
Following any submissions you would also be given the opportunity to appear at the hearing if you choose to.
I don’t want to sell my property; can it nevertheless be compulsorily acquired?
If agreement cannot be reached between you and The Crown, the PWA provides for compulsory acquisition by the Crown through the Minister for Land Information.
This will only be exercised after all reasonable endeavours have been made to negotiate in good faith the sale and purchase of your land. The compulsory acquisition of land follows the process outlined in the PWA. We recommend you seek appropriate legal advice in the event your property is being compulsorily acquired. If the compulsory acquisition process is triggered, and you object to your land being acquired for the project, you have the right to have your objection heard by the Environment Court.
What happens if we have services located in the area?
You don’t need to worry about utilities like water pipes and power cables that the council or power company has put in within the road boundaries as Waka Kotahi would work directly with the service providers on relocation. If you have a utility that you’ve had put in yourself, then we might need to talk to you.
What is happening with the rest of the corridor between Whangārei and Auckland?
We are working hard to improve the safety and resiliency of State Highway 1 between Auckland and Whangārei. Our work will reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on this high traffic corridor. It will also create a more efficient and resilient route between Whangārei and Auckland.
Between Whangārei and Wellsford there are a number of safety improvements either currently under construction or being planned in the next few years.
On top of the Whangārei to Port Marsden Highway Safety Improvements, this will include:
- interim safety improvements between Toetoe Road and Port Marsden Highway including flexible safety posts to prevent unsafe passing manoeuvres and head-on collisions.
- intersection improvements at SH1 Loop Road including a dual lane roundabout. This will complement the already improved intersection at SH1 Portland Road only 1km south
- safety improvements to SH1 Waipu intersections including Uretiti Road, Nova Scotia Drive/Rosythe Road, Shoemaker Road and The Braigh/Millbrook Road
- flexible median barriers at multiple locations to prevent drivers crossing the centreline, preventing head-on crashed
- turnaround bays to accommodate safe turning movements
- rumble strips which are raised markings that will make a sound and alert drivers if they stray across their lane or too close to the roadside
- wide centrelines and widened shoulders to provide more space between opposing traffic lanes and the edge of the road.
A new 18.5km, four-lane stretch of SH1 between Puhoi and Warkworth will also be completed in mid-2023.
You can find out more about the work we’re doing and the specific projects on this busy stretch of state highway on our Northland web page
What is happening with the four-laning project?
The Whangārei to Port Marsden Highway four-laning project will not continue as part of the NZ Upgrade Programme. Waka Kotahi recognises State Highway 1 as a strategic route and further changes in the future will likely be required to meet the demands of the region.
Any future changes will require funding to complete a detailed business case before proceeding to route protection (land designation and consents). Route protection is an important part of project development as it provides certainty for affected landowners and wider communities.
Securing land designation and consents also ensures Waka Kotahi is ready to construct the route when it is required and when funding is available.
At this point we are unable to confirm a timeframe for securing funding via the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) to progress the project through to route protection and it is unlikely this will occur within the current NLTF 2021-2024 season.
As we had not progressed to confirming a preferred corridor or route protection, we’re unable to confirm the extent of any possible property impacts.
What is happening at other high-risk areas on SH1 such as Brynderwyn Hills?
To improve resiliency for State Highway 1 (SH1) south of Whangārei (including SH1 Brynderwyn Hills and SH1 Dome Valley, we are currently undertaking a piece of work to identify the short, medium, and long term options to provide ongoing and resilient access to the highway when future weather related events happen.
Part of the work will be to identify if any of the local roads connecting with SH1 need to be upgraded.
Due for completion in July this year, the plan will include a set of recommended short, medium and long term programmes, along with estimated funding required for each programme, and potential funding sources. All the programmes will be subject to securing funding to proceed into detailed investigations and design.
Some programmes may be able to get started straight away as part of smaller scale business-as-usual activities once funding is secured, while others will be more complex and require detailed investigation, including public engagement.
Are you going to fix all the potholes on SH1?
We are aware there has been a noticeable increase in potholes on sections of the state highway network, this is partly related to the increase in frequency and severity of recent weather events, but also the general condition of the network.
With more frequent and severe weather events, this can have a significant impact on network access and condition. We have crews out monitoring the network and ready to respond once we are aware of their presence.
We have a plan to improve the overall condition of the network, however this will take time to achieve, due to the times of year we can complete renewals and rebuilds, and overall industry capacity and funding constraints.
Our contractors are required to formally inspect the state highway network on a regular basis, and during the wetter, colder months they will have teams patrolling the network to proactively fill potholes and undertake other quick maintenance activities.
At night and over the weekend our contractors have crews that are ‘on call’. They are activated through a process that starts when we are notified of an issue that needs immediate repair (like a pothole).
We encourage road users to advise us of any issues they come across on the state highway network, to ensure we can be as responsive as possible. You can contact us on 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49) to advise us of any issue on the state highway network.