Project introduction

There’s been a high number of crashes on State Highway 3 (SH3) between Waitara and Bell Block so we’ll be making some changes to help save lives. Over the next few years we’ll build roundabouts at high-risk intersections along the route and add sections of median barrier.

  • Estimated project cost

    $82 million
  • Project type

    Safety improvements
  • Project status


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Community drop-in session - Wednesday 27 September 2023

If you have questions or would like to learn more about the project, come along to our community drop-in session on Wednesday 27 September from 4-7pm, at Whai Tapuwae Nō Rongo, Clifton Park, Waitara.

This will be an opportunity to meet the team and find out more about how we’re making the road safer for everyone.

You will also have the opportunity to speak with representatives from New Plymouth District Council about the Coastal Walkway project and the Let’s Go programme.

Call in anytime between 4-7pm on Wednesday 27 September at Whai Tapuwae Nō Rongo, 17 Princess Street, Waitara.

SH3 Waitara to Bell Block safety improvements information sheet – August 2023 [PDF, 7.3 MB]

Project overview

State Highway 3 is an important connection between New Plymouth, Waitara and beyond. It connects the Taranaki and Waikato regions, providing an important link for Port Taranaki, the New Plymouth Airport and major industries to the rest of the upper North Island.

Busy intersections, speed and roadside hazards like power poles and ditches cause safety issues on the road. There were 101 crashes on this route between 2009 and 2018. Seven people died and 14 people were seriously injured.

Many of these crashes happened at intersections or involved drivers running off the road and hitting trees, power poles and deep ditches. There have also been head-on and side-on crashes.

Traffic is increasing on this part of SH3 which is causing delays, particularly for commuters. Anticipated residential and business growth in the area is expected to increase traffic which will create more congestion and make it difficult for drivers to get on the highway.

Following engagement with key stakeholders and the community, early safety improvements were carried out in February 2019. Further improvements including wide centrelines were implemented early 2021.

Roundabout concepts for the high-risk intersections at Princess Street, Waitara Road, SH3A (Mountain Road) and De Havilland Drive/Airport Drive were refined in 202 to speed up construction.

This process was undertaken after investigations identified it would take a number of years to progress the roundabouts developed in 2018 to construction due to significant land, stormwater and costs associated with them.

An additional $53M in funding was secured in 2021 to deliver the project.

  • Waitara Road roundabout

    Construction on the roundabout at the intersection of Waitara Road and State Highway 3 is expected to get underway in early 2024.

    The roundabout as well as safety improvements to Raleigh Street will make it easier for people to get on and off the highway.

    To make the roundabout as safe as possible, the section of Raleigh Street between SH3 and Tate Road will become one-way, with traffic entering via a left turn off Tate Road. The layout of the intersection of Tate Road and Raleigh Street will also be changed from a four-way intersection to a T-intersection.

    The combination of the roundabout and safety improvements to Raleigh Street and Tate Road, will make this intersection much safer for the Waitara community and everyone using the road.

  • Princess Street roundabout

    Construction of the roundabout and pedestrian and cyclist underpass is progressing well with Stage 2 of construction currently underway. To date, some of the milestones include:

    • Construction of the Manukorihi Park stormwater treatment wetland swale. Working with our project partners Manukorihi and Otaraua hapū, approximately 2500 plants have been planted in the swale. The swale will treat stormwater runoff from the roundabout before releasing it into the Waitara Awa
    • 1500m³ of earth has been removed to make room for the pedestrian underpass
    • The first section of concrete walls for the underpass have been installed.

    Construction of the roundabout and underpass is expected to be complete by mid-2024

    Watch the video below for a virtual flythrough of what the roundabout, underpass, and Manukorihi Park stormwater treatment wetland swale will look like once construction is complete.

  • Princess Street underpass

    An underpass is being built as part of the Princess Street intersection upgrade to provide safer access across the highway for pedestrians and cyclists.

    Making sure people feel safe using the underpass has been a key priority of the design. New lighting will be installed at the intersection and the underpass will be lit day and night. The underpass has been designed so users can see right through it before entering. CCTV will also be installed for added safety.

    Manukorihi, Ngāti Rahiri, Otaraua, Pukerangiora and Puketapu hapū (ngā hapū) have worked with Tihei Design and Workshop Studio to develop a cultural expression for the walls of the underpass and those leading up to it.

    This work is the first part of a wider cultural narrative being developed for the road between Waitara and Bell Block.

    The variety of cultural expressions for the corridor will give ngā hapū the opportunity to once again have a physical presence on the landscape and to depict and share their rich stories for the benefit of the community.

    Each of the expression sites will be distinct, and in order to ensure connectivity with other sites along the corridor, novel design strategies will be used, similar to those depicted in the present Princess Street plans.

    Watch the video below to learn about how the underpass will make the intersection safer.



Flexible median barrier

Flexible median barriers are a key part of this project.

Flexible median barriers put something between you and an oncoming car, truck, or motorcycle. This means that if someone loses control or drifts across the centreline, the result isn’t a deadly head-on crash.

Many of the crashes on SH3 between Waitara and Bell Block are head-on or at intersections so the combination of median barrier and roundabouts will significantly reduce the risk of these types of crashes.

Flexible median barrier will be installed along SH3 between Waitara and Bell Block in sections. The designs for the first two sections of flexible median barrier have now been confirmed. These designs were finalised following engagement with landowners and businesses along the route, emergency services, and representatives from the freight industry.

The first section of median barrier will start approximately 300m west of the intersection of SH3 and Bayly Street and end approximately 40m east of the Mamaku Road intersection. We are aiming to have this section installed or under construction by mid-2024. This section of median barrier will not impact on access to properties or side roads.

The second section of median barrier will start approximately 40m west of the Nelson Street intersection and will end at the future Waitara Road roundabout. This will be installed once construction on the Waitara Road roundabout is complete. People driving on the road who need to turnaround will be able to use the Princess Street Roundabout or the Waitara Road roundabout.

The plan and timeline for installation of median barrier between the Mamaku Road and Nelson Street intersections, and along the rest of the route, is currently being confirmed.

Roundabout concepts

Traffic management at Princess Street

Our team is making good progress on construction of the Princess Street roundabout and pedestrian underpass and we are currently on schedule. However, there is a risk of falling behind as we expect construction of the northbound lane (set to start in November 2023) will be slower than originally planned due to a higher-than-expected ground water table. The excess water must be pumped out, which slows construction down.

We know the community want us to get the roundabout and underpass finished and open as soon as possible to increase safety on the road and remove the inconvenience of the roadworks.

To make sure we stay on track and finish construction in mid-2024, we are bringing some of the planned works forward – including some asphalting and the installation of traffic islands on SH3. This will ensure we are able to get the roundabout and underpass finished on time.

To enable this work to happen, the length of the worksite will be extended slightly, and State Highway 3 through the Princess Street intersection will be reduced to one lane. This is scheduled to happen from 6pm Sunday 3 September, but this date is subject to change. The southbound lane of Princess Street East up to the intersection with Rahiri Street will remain closed.

In mid-October, the southbound lane of Princess Street East will be asphalted before opening to traffic. Following this, the northbound lane will close.

Stop/Go traffic management will continue to be in place all hours of day and night at the intersection, with temporary traffic lights controlling the flow of traffic through the intersection.

The 30km/h temporary speed limit will continue to be in place. Road users should allow for delays of up to 15 minutes. Safe crossing opportunities will also continue to be provided for pedestrians and cyclists crossing SH3 from Princess Street.

The traffic management at Princess Street will change in November 2023 to enable construction of the northbound lane and Princess Street West. More information about this will be provided closer to the time.

We thank everyone for their patience while these important works are completed.

Construction stages

Construction of the roundabout and pedestrian and cyclist underpass is being completed in four stages.

Stage 1 (March – May 2023)

During Stage 1, we carried out site establishment works and implemented erosion and sediment controls. The wetland swale in Manakorihi Park which will treat stormwater runoff from the new roundabout was also constructed.

Stage 2 (May – November 2023)

During Stage 2, we are constructing the underpass and the southbound lane for the roundabout.

Around September, work to build the stormwater outfall will also start.

Stage 3 (Late 2023 – early 2024)

During Stage 3, we will construct the northbound lane of the roundabout and finish work on the underpass.

Stage 4 (mid 2024)

During Stage 4, we will do some landscaping, complete the installation of cultural expressions, finish asphalt surfacing, road markings, install permanent signage and remove the traffic management at the site.

SH3 Waitara to Bell Block speed review

Following public consultation new safer speed limits were implemented on this stretch of road in December 2020, making the speed limit a consistent 80km along the entire route.