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SH3 Napier Road speed review and infrastructure improvements

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Project introduction

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has set new permanent speed limits on State Highway 3 Napier Road, from Palmerston North to Ashhurst. We’re also making safety improvements to infrastructure between Keith Street and Stoney Creek Road.

  • Project type

    Infrastructure upgrade, Speed review

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Background

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency consulted with the public and stakeholders on the safe and appropriate speeds for State Highway 3 from Palmerston North to Ashhurst in April-May 2022.

Many people raised concerns that the current speed limits felt too high for an environment with increased traffic volumes and people walking and biking as well as accessing a school.

It was also suggested that the Palmerston North urban 50km/h zone could be extended further out on SH3 Napier Road to address the issue of the current speed limit feeling too high for an environment with vulnerable road users.

As a result of this feedback, Waka Kotahi consulted with the public and stakeholders from Thursday 9 June to Monday 27 June 2022 on the proposal that the SH3 Palmerston North urban 50km/h zone is extended past the Bupa Riverstone Retirement Village (from 20m north of Sutton Place to 180m east of Macpherson Grove).

Safer speed limits and better designed infrastructure on this route will work together to provide the safest and most suitable solution for this corridor.

Permanent speed limits

The following speed limits were proposed during consultation and have been set as the new permanent speed limits.

State Highway 3 Napier Road

Existing/previous permanent speed limit

New permanent speed limit

Date new limit in place

From 20m north of Sutton Place to 180m east of Macpherson Grove.

80km/h (existing)

50km/h

16 December 2022

From 180m ease of Macpherson Grove to 280m east of Stoney Creek Road

100km/h (previous)

80km/h

23 June 2022

Whakarongo School Variable Speed Limit
From 200m west of Stoney Creek Road to 130m east of Stoney Creek Road

100km/h (previous)

80/60km/h

From 350m east of Hacketts Road to 500m south of Cambridge Avenue Street

80km/h (previous)

60km/h

From 500m south of Cambridge Avenue Street to 160m northwest of State Highway 57

100km/h (previous)

80km/h

New permanent speed limits map:

View larger map [JPG, 721 KB]

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.

Through feedback we heard that most people supported speed limit reductions between Kelvin Grove and Whakarongo, including a variable speed zone at Whakarongo.

Many people suggested speed limits should be 50km/h or 60km/h between Sutton Place in Kelvin Grove to Roberts Line. As the road environment here is not highly developed and is primarily wide, with wide shoulders and classed as an ‘interregional connector’ 80km/h is the safe and appropriate speed at present. However, we can review the speed limits on the corridor again when infrastructure improvements are constructed (subject to funding approval). The traffic signals we are designing will support a 60km/h speed limit.

Infrastructure improvements

Additionally, we proposed that the Palmerston North urban 50km/h zone is extended further on SH3 Napier Road, past the Bupa Riverstone Retirement Village. We acknowledge there is a clear change of environment in this section of road and there are vulnerable road users in the area. Feedback received during consultation was unanimously in favour of the proposal.

We didn’t receive much feedback about the section of road from Whakorongo to Ashhurst, and most of the people who did provide feedback opposed any speed limit reduction here. We did not propose a change of speed limit for this stretch of road at this time as we would like to talk further with our stakeholders to better understand the future form and function of the road.

Feedback received about SH3 through Ashhurst included suggestions that the speed limit should be 50km/h here, however this speed limit is suited to a highly urbanised town centre. We believe people will comply with a 60km/h speed limit on this section and it is a safe and appropriate speed for this road at present.

There was considerable feedback about cycle safety being a concern from Ashhurst to SH57. The new permanent speed here will be 80km/h and detailed design is ongoing for a shared user path for the Ashhurst Bridge to connect with Te Ahu a Turanga.

Crash history

Between 2011–2020, there were three people killed and 80 injured in crashes on this road. 

Lower permanent speed limits, alongside safety improvements to infrastructure, are needed to reduce the number of crashes and resulting deaths and serious injuries.

Consultation and submissions

Across the four-week consultation period ending 5 May 2022 there were 48 submissions received. This included submissions form Horizons Regional Council, Palmerston North City Council and NZ Police. HRC, PNCC and Police all expressed support for lowering speed limits on the sections proposed.

Consultation summary [PDF, 438 KB]

Consultation submissions [PDF, 280 KB]

SH3 Napier Road 50km/h speed extension review

Across the two-week consultation period, a total of nine submissions were received. This included submissions from Palmerston North City Council and NZ Police.

Consultation summary [PDF, 460 KB]

Consultation submissions [PDF, 257 KB] 

This speed review was consulted under the Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2017, and is being completed under the transitional provisions of the Setting of Speed Limits 2022 Rule.

Interim State Highway Speed Management Plan

Waka Kotahi is consulting now on further speed limit changes through an Interim State Highway Speed Management Plan.

Interim State Highway Speed Management Plan