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Project introduction

Initial safety improvements such as wide centrelines were implemented early 2021. More extensive improvements such as roundabouts and safety barriers are currently being designed.

  • Estimated project cost

    $29 million
  • Project type

    Safety improvements
  • Project status

    Design, Pre-construction

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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.

About the project

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.

More extensive safety improvements are currently being designed. This work will help improve safety on the road, reduce crashes and ease congestion.

Waka Kotahi has partnered with New Plymouth District Council to build a new roundabout on SH3 at De Havilland Drive, providing motorists with safer access to the airport following the realignment of Airport Drive. New roundabouts are also proposed for Princess Street, Waitara, and SH3a intersections.

The roundabouts will make these intersections, which are some of the country’s highest-risk intersections, safer and help ease congestion on the route. They will be built over three construction seasons to help reduce the impact on traffic and residents.

This project was originally split into two sections, but all safety improvements will now be delivered as one project by Waka Kotahi. 

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.