Last updated on 11 April 2024.

The project

  •   What’s the issue?

    State Highway 2, between Waihī and Ōmokoroa, needs to be safer and more efficient. Between 2009 and 2018, 25 people lost their lives and 66 were seriously injured on this stretch of road.

    Most of the accidents were caused by drivers running off the road and hitting trees, poles or deep ditches, head-on collisions, and crashes at intersections.

  •   What are you doing?

    We’re improving this road using evidence-based tools to identify the best solutions in high-risk areas. These include new intersection upgrades, flexible median barrier, side barriers, wider centrelines and rumble strips.

  •   Why are you making these safety improvements?

    The design solutions and improvements included in this project are about keeping people safe and improving the efficiency of the highway. While we appreciate convenience and travel time are important to people as they move about, the work we are doing is proven to save lives and reduce the risk of crashes, and the lengthy delays which result from crashes.


  •   What safety improvements will be added along SH2 between Waihī and Ōmokoroa?

    1. Flexible road safety barriers in high-risk areas

    • Flexible road safety barriers can be used down the middle of a road to prevent head-on collisions or along the edge of the road to stop run-off-road crashes.
    • Flexible road safety barriers catch vehicles that leave their lane.
    • If you hit a flexible barrier, the steel cables flex, slowing down your vehicle and keeping it upright. They absorb the impact so you and the people with you, don’t. They prevent you from being deflected to the other side of the road, potentially hitting another vehicle, trees, poles, or deep ditches on the roadside.
    • Flexible road safety barriers are a good fit for our roads. They’re narrow and work best on long, straight sections and gentle curves. Most importantly, they’re the safest barrier if someone does hit them.

    2. Guard rail

    • We use guard rail barriers to stop vehicles from hitting hazards like trees, poles, and ditches on the side of the road. They are useful for areas where it is not practical to use flexible barriers, such as around individual roadside hazards, like trees or near entranceways and driveways.

    3. Wide centrelines

    • Widening the centreline helps to help separate oncoming traffic.
    • Separating traffic this way has been proven to reduce serious crashes by up to 20 percent.*

    4. Road shoulder widening

    • A wide road sealed shoulder in high-risk sections gives drivers more room to recover if they lose control and a safe place to stop in an emergency.
    • This can reduce serious crashes by up to 35 percent.*

    *High-risk rural roads guide, published September 2011, NZ Transport Agency. First edition.

  •   Why are you spending the money here, and not on other sites across SH2?

    More than $800m is being invested between Waihī and Tauranga, this will save lives while making the western Bay of Plenty a safer destination to travel to and a better place to live.

    View map with all projects in progress on this corridor [PDF, 585 KB]

    Key projects along this 55km corridor include ongoing construction of the Waihī to Ōmokoroa safety improvements. Six of the 10 sections have now been completed and completion of the overall programme is expected 2024. Further safety improvements started in 2022 to install flexible median barriers and six roundabouts are scheduled for completion by 2026.

    Onwards to Tauranga, construction of Stage One of the Takitimu North Link is also underway, and funding confirmed to upgrade the SH2 / Ōmokoroa Road Intersection. Route protection of Takitimu North Link Stage Two is also in progress.

    Takitimu North Link Stage One



  •   How will the project be constructed?

    The Waihī to Ōmokoroa safety improvements project is around 40km long. We’ve split the project into 10 sections to help limit the number of roadworks that people encounter along the highway. Section one between Heath Road and Trig Road was completed late 2019. For the remaining nine sections, the plan is to have two or three main activity construction sites underway at one time, north and south of Katikati. There will be preliminary works happening in other locations such as tree felling and service location/relocation and retaining wall construction.

  •   When did construction start?

    Construction started in September 2018 on section one between Heath Road and Trig Road. On site activity between Trig Road and Athenree Gorge, and between Wharawhara and Sharp Roads started in 2019. Each section will take between 12-18 months to complete. The project is expected to be finished in 2024.

    In February 2022, it was confirmed the safety improvements would be boosted further with additional money for flexible median barrier and safe turnaround points at six intersections.

    Modelling tells us that installing flexible median barrier will reduce deaths and serious injuries by a massive 72 per cent.

    The inclusion of flexible median barrier is a safety enhancement to the current widening works and has undergone several stages of public consultation, you can read a summary of this here:

    SH2 Waihī to Omokoroa safety improvements project summary of engagement - December 2021 [PDF, 233 KB]

  •   Why is it taking so long?

    This is a long and complicated stretch of road with increasing numbers of vehicles and other large-scale projects. It takes time to design, engage with affected land owners and get the necessary consents and approvals. There have been four design teams actively working on this project. Construction also takes time, working on a busy stretch of road while keeping everybody safe and the traffic flowing. Shifting live utilities in a confined space is also a complicated and time-consuming process.

  •   Where is construction at?

    Six out of 10 sections of safety improvements are complete and the rest on track to finish 2024. Two of six roundabouts are in construction at Rea Road and Tetley Road intersection (expected completion late-2022) and Morton Road intersection (expected completion early-2023).

    SH2 Waihī to Ōmokoroa project overview - June 2022 [PDF, 572 KB]

    Once the roundabouts are completed, flexible median barrier will be installed. This will allow safe turnaround facilities, as to achieve the greatest safety benefit for the flexible median safety barriers, we need to have as few gaps as possible. The first section of flexible median barrier is scheduled to be installed mid-2023 although this is subject to change as we continue to work through programming.


Road surface

  •   I’m driving on an old and new piece of road – why is the road surface uneven?

    The project involves widening the existing road so it’s 12.5 metres spanning across both lanes. This is made up of a 1.5-metre-wide centreline, 3.5-metre-wide lanes and minimum two metre wide shoulders. This creates room to recover if you make a mistake.

    The safety improvements project doesn’t include upgrading the existing road surface – it remains untouched. This means when the safety improvement work is finished, the road will have new strips of pavement either side of the existing. It is safe to drive on both road surfaces.

  •   Why don’t you just reseal the whole road?

    This project has been funded to widen the existing road and does not include a full reseal, as the existing road is still up to standard. When the improvements have been made, it will initially look patchy but, over time, under the ongoing maintenance program the full width of the sections will be resealed.

  •   Why do potholes appear on the new sections of road?

    During the winter, potholes can appear more often as we’re more likely to get rain, and wet weather is one of main causes. While every effort is made to make sure the road is well maintained, the problem is often exacerbated during heavy rain events and fixing potholes in the rain is difficult and often temporary. Some potholes are forming in old sections of the road and are unrelated to the safety improvement work. Regardless of where damage may occur it will get fixed as soon as possible.

    Large-scale maintenance and resealing aren’t done during winter months because of higher chances the weather will lead to further failures, such as potholes. Maintenance of the state highway is programmed every summer when the weather is more settled and drier.

  •   Why do you work through the winter if the quality of the road is compromised?

    The safety improvements project must continue through winter albeit at a slower rate in order to complete the whole project as quick as possible. Locals and stakeholders asked us to “get on with it”, so this is what we are doing, while balancing traffic demands and minimising delays. A robust quality assurance process remains in place to ensure we meet our design and construction standards.

Flexible median barrier and intersection upgrades (roundabouts)

  •   Why are you installing flexible median barriers?

    Flexible median barrier is important along this stretch of SH2 because head-on crashes make up 32 per cent of the deaths and serious injuries on SH2 and are the safest barrier if someone hits them.

    Flexible median barriers are installed down the middle of a road to prevent head-on crashes. They’re a cost-effective infrastructure treatment that can reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured in crashes by 75 percent.

    To achieve the greatest safety benefit for the flexible median safety barriers, we need to have as few gaps as possible. This means people accessing the highway from a private access or side road may only be able to turn left, unless a safe turnaround area has been provided.

    Why we use flexible road safety barriers

    Flexible road safety barriers information flyer

  •   Why roundabouts?

    Roundabouts are proven to be the safest form of intersection control. They will provide safe turnaround areas as part of flexible median barrier installation this stretch of SH2.

    Roundabouts reduce approach speeds and allow traffic from side roads to access the highway. They significantly reduce the head-on and side impact crashes, and the low impact angles reduce injury severity when mistakes are made, as per the safe systems approach.

    Safe System solutions

    Spacing between the roundabouts, is planned for every 1.9km to 3.8km, and will make turning right much safer for those who live along SH2.

  •   Why not install Seagull type traffic islands at the intersections?

    Generally, New Zealand and Australian research has shown Rural Seagull intersections have a poor record of safety improvements. In practice Seagull intersections either provide little safety benefit or can make the intersection safety worse.

    • A standard right turn T intersection generates three key right turn conflict movements. These are all high-speed conflicts so are all likely to result in a DSI.
    • A Seagull intersection addresses only one of these movements, with two of the three right turn conflict movements remaining. These are still high-speed conflicts so are all likely to result in a DSI. However, Seagull Islands introduce a new conflict at the merge.
    • The left turn conflicts remain unchanged for both.

    A Seagull intersection still requires a significant amount of area land, and as with hooks, on this corridor can cost as much as a roundabout without the safety benefits of a roundabout.


  •   Why have you removed the passing lane near Morton Road?

    Our priority is safety of everyone using the road. Once the roundabout at Morton Road Intersection is constructed the passing lane will be too short to retain, and within a 80km/h legal speed environment, there is little requirement for this. The safest action we can take is to remove it.

  •   Does having a median barrier mean I have to travel further?

    To achieve the greatest safety benefit for the flexible median safety barriers, we need to have as few gaps as possible. Waka Kotahi has a vision where no one is killed or seriously injured on our roads. To achieve this, we must put the safety of people first, before efficiency and travel time.

    This does mean those entering the highway from a private access or side road may only be able to turn left, unless a safe turnaround area has been provided.

  •   What is the impact of median barriers on carbon emissions due to some people having to drive further to turnaround?

    To achieve our vision of an Aotearoa where no one is killed or seriously injured on our roads, we must put the safety of people first. Median barriers prevent serious head-on crashes which have a high chance of resulting in a fatality.

    There’s a small percentage of people who will need to drive a short distance further to use a turnaround facility, in comparison to those who are passing through an area without stopping.

    For this small number of journeys, emissions may be higher. However, this is not significant when compared against total emissions from vehicle travel.

    We want to see a transport system that is both safe and has lower carbon emissions. Waka Kotahi is leading and supporting programmes and projects to encourage more use of low-emissions vehicles, better walking and cycling routes, and increased access to public transport as our strategy to reduce emissions.

    A safe transport system is efficient and better for our climate.


Side barriers

Pulling off the road when there is a barrier

  •   Will drivers still be able to pull over?

    While we don’t encourage people to pull over on a state highway there’ll still be gaps in the barrier, especially around driveways, if you do need to pull over in an emergency.

    Around one third of the road will have side barriers, and this will mean there are some places where you can’t pull completely off the road.

    Overall, the sealed road shoulder will be wider than it was before, so you’ll have more space to recover if you make a mistake or need to pull over in an emergency.

  •   Where can I pull over if there’s a barrier on the road?

    Cars will usually be able to pull onto the shoulder beside the safety barrier. Road safety barriers may prevent some wide vehicles from pulling off completely so there are regular gaps in the barriers, usually every 400–500m where possible, as well as at intersections and driveways.

    Vehicles wanting to pass slower traffic will need to wait until the slower vehicle can pull over into a gap in the side barrier or overtake by going across the centreline when it’s safe to do so and the opposing lane is clear. While this may require some patience and understanding, it makes the road safer for everyone.

    With barriers, the road space is clearly defined so agricultural vehicles won’t be weaving on and off the shoulder.


Barriers and agricultural vehicles

  •   Will agricultural vehicles still be able to use the road?

    The widened road shoulder and the widened centreline will mean there’s room for agricultural vehicles. We’ll also be leaving some gaps in the barrier, at driveway entrances and intersections, which people driving large or wide vehicles can use to pull off the road completely.


Barriers and buses

Barriers and emergency services

  •   Is there enough room for emergency services to get past in an emergency?

    The minimum 6.25 metre space between the guardrail at the edge of the road and the flexible safety barrier in the centre allows room for emergency services to get past in an emergency. Emergency services would expect motorists to adopt common courtesy, ensuring they slow down and move their vehicle as far to the side of the road as safely possible. In the event of a crash, flexible safety barriers can also be pulled out of the road quickly and easily to allow access for emergency service vehicles and clean-up operations.



  •   How will I know if my land is affected?

    Someone from our team will contact every landowner whose property may be affected. This includes both landowners whose land might be needed for the project and landowners whose driveway access might be affected during construction.

    We’ll also send out information to everyone along the road so that people know what’s happening and have the chance to talk with our team.



  •   Why are there speed restrictions on the road when there is no visible work happening?

    This is a long and complex project and the team is trying to complete it as fast as possible, with the least amount of disruption.

    Lower speeds are in place for a number of reasons; most importantly to keep road users and workers safe.

    We have multiple teams working along the state highway – all of these sites are at varying stages of completion.

    If lower speed signs are in place and there is no visible activity on site, it’s likely the road is yet to have all the new safety features installed such as, signs, road marking, edge markers and barriers.  Be assured we will get these important features in place as soon as practicable to have the highway operating at the usual speed limits.



  •   Why are you not upgrading the bridges along SH2 at the same time as the road corridor upgrade?

    In 2017, a cost of approximately $80 million dollars was estimated to upgrade the bridges to the same width as the upgraded road within the SH2 Waihī to Ōmokoroa safety improvements project.

    As these bridges are not in need of an urgent repair or replacement, this money will not be prioritised before 2031, which is two further funding cycles of the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP).

    There are other bridges across New Zealand approaching the end of their useful life and are prioritised for replacement and improvement during this funding period before the bridges along this corridor.

  •   Are the current bridges along SH2 safe?

    Yes. We have an active bridge maintenance, strengthening and replacement programme. Every bridge undergoes a general inspection every two years and a more detailed inspection every six years. Any repairs required are addressed in a timely manner to ensure the structure remains safe for use.

    Safety is our number one priority at all times, and we carry out regular inspections to ensure that all state highway bridges in New Zealand are up to standard.

  •   How often does Waka Kotahi do a safety check on the SH2 bridges?

    When bridges are constructed, they are expected to have an 80-to-100-year lifespan. We hold structural details of all our bridges within our Bridge Data System (BDS) and in keeping with international best practice in bridge management, every bridge undergoes a general inspection every two years and a more detailed inspection every six years. Any repairs required are addressed in a timely manner to ensure the structure remains safe for use.