For the SH1 Levin to Foxton safety improvements project we’re planning to install flexible median barrier, side barrier, wide centrelines, turnaround facilities, and a roundabout at the intersection of SH1 and Waitārere Beach Road.

The combination of these infrastructure improvements will significantly improve the safety of this stretch of road.

Flexible median barrier

Flexible median barrier is an important part of the SH3 Whanganui to Bulls safety improvements project.

When the Ōtaki to north of Levin highway is open, drivers will travel from Wellington to north of Levin on four-lane, median separated highways and join onto the existing SH1 in this area.  The planned safety improvements, including median barrier, are needed to ensure people safely transition from the expressway driving environment to the traditional two-lane section of state highway.

Flexible median barriers work by putting a barrier between you and an oncoming car, truck or motorcycle. This means if someone loses control or drifts across the centreline, the result isn’t a deadly head-on crash. We know median barriers are very effective, because of the number of times they get hit. Every time this happens, a potentially fatal or serious crash has been prevented.

Median barriers can reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured in crashes by 65 percent*.

*Standard Safety Intervention Toolkit, published September 2021, NZ Transport Agency, Waka Kotahi(external link)

Where we’re installing flexible median barriers

We are installing flexible median barriers in sections along the route we have identified are at high risk of head-on crashes, and where it is safe for flexible median barrier to be installed:

  • from the southern entrance to Foxton through to the existing flexible median barrier on the Manawatū River Bridge.
  • from the southern end of the Manawatū River Bridge through to the intersection of SH1 and Koputaroa Road, with a gap and right turn bay at the entrance to Mitchpine.
  • approximately 600 metres before and 200 metres after the Waitārere Beach Road roundabout.

We are also constructing three new turnaround facilities at:

  • the southern entrance to Foxton
  • the Oturoa Road intersection
  • the Koputaroa Road intersection on the eastern side of SH1.

There is also an existing turnaround available underneath the Manawatū River Bridge on Matakarapa and Whirokino Roads.

The median barrier will be installed in stretches as the turnaround facilities are constructed.

Why we’re not leaving a gap in the barrier at the Newth Road intersection

To achieve the greatest safety benefit from the flexible median barrier, there will be as few gaps in the barrier as possible.

The flexible median barrier across the intersection with Newth Road will result in slightly increased travel times for some road users but keeping people alive on our roads is our priority.

The flexible median barrier will also reduce the number of people using Newth Road as a bypass to Palmerston North. Newth Road is narrow and has hazards like deep drainage ditches either side – it is safer to use SH1.

A gap at the entrance to Mitchpine is needed to allow trucks to turn right. This will prevent multiple trucks queuing to use the turnaround facility at Koputaroa Road, which could create safety issues for southbound traffic on SH1.

Changes to Newth Road access

The flexible median barrier across the intersection of SH1 and Newth Road will result in a small amount of additional travel time for some people.

People travelling north on SH1 who want to access Newth Road can use the turnaround at the southern entrance to Foxton, an additional 1.8 km of travel (approximately 1.5-2 minutes of travel time at the current speed limit).

People who want to travel north from Newth Road on SH1 will need to use the existing turnaround underneath the Manawatū River Bridge, an additional 5.7 km of travel (approximately 4-4.5 minutes of travel time at the current speed limit).

Emergency services

We have worked with emergency service stakeholders to understand their requirements in determining the placement of flexible median barrier on this road.

The barrier can be lowered and driven over in emergency situations if needed.

Flexible median barriers significantly reduce the number of crashes on roads where they are installed.

NZTA has produced a video, featuring representatives from Fire and Emergency New Zealand, NZ Police, and Wellington Free Ambulance, where they talk about why they support the installation of flexible median barriers on our roads.

Passing slow vehicles

If you want to pass slower traffic, you’ll need to wait until the slower vehicle can pull over into a suitable gap on the side of the road. While this may require some patience and understanding, it helps protect everyone so we can all get to the places important to us.

There will be safe spaces along the road where vehicles can pull over to allow others to pass.

Turnaround facilities

A large turnaround is already available underneath the Manawatū River Bridge on Matakarapa and Whirokino Roads. Three more sign-posted turnaround locations will be installed: one at the southern entrance to Foxton for people heading south, another at the Oturoa Road intersection, and the third on the eastern side of SH1 at the Koputaroa Road intersection. Construction on the turnarounds at the southern entry to Foxton and Oturoa Road is currently underway.

When deciding where to put the turnaround facilities we considered:

  • The number of driveways for residents or businesses on the road, and the practicality for people using turnaround facilities daily.
  • The likelihood of unsafe behaviour.
  • The types of vehicles that travel on the road and the frequency they will need to turn.
  • The length of clear roadway visible to a driver when exiting the turnaround facility

Generally, NZTA guidelines recommend a spacing of 3km between turnaround facilities. This supports the safety benefits gained from flexible median barriers and the access needs for people living or working in the area.

While some people may need to drive a bit further, turnaround facilities will provide a much safer right turning access off and on to the road for everyone. Specifically, they can:

  • Reduce how much opposing traffic someone needs to navigate when turning right out of a side road or driveway.
  • Reduce the risk of a rear-end crash from someone driving behind a person turning right.
  • Combine accessways and turning points at a safe location on the road.
  • Provide an alternative location for people driving to safely stop, such as for maintenance and in an emergency.

Roadside barriers

We are installing a small number of roadside barriers at high-risk locations where there are things like trees, poles or deep ditches that can’t be easily moved.

These side barriers will stop cars from going further off the road and hitting one of these hazards. Roadside safety barriers at high-risk locations can reduce death and serious injuries by up to 30 percent*.

* Johansson, R. (2009). Vision Zero – Implementing a Policy for Traffic Safety. Safety Science. 47(6), 826-831.

Waitārere Beach Road roundabout

The new roundabout at the intersection of SH1 and Waitārere Beach Road will safely connect the growing Waitārere Beach community to the wider road network.

Roundabouts reduce speed of all vehicles, making it easier for you to choose the right time to enter flowing traffic.

They also help protect people on our road by lowering the risk of a high impact crash. Roundabouts reduce the number of points where you could potentially collide with another vehicle, and if you do, the angle and impact speed are more forgiving than in some other intersection layouts.

The roundabout will include concrete lane separation on all approaches and space for people to cycle around the intersection away from vehicles.

Wide centreline

Wide centreline will be installed along the entire route.

Wide centrelines are two lines marked in the centre of the road that keep opposing traffic further apart than standard centreline markings.

Widening the centreline means more space between you and oncoming vehicles. It’s a simple and effective way to visually create more space between vehicles and can help prevent a potential crash if someone makes a mistake.

Where we are installing flexible median barrier, it will sit in the middle of the wide centreline.

Right-hand turn bays

We are right-turn bays into Poroutawhao School and Lewis Farms to make it safer for people travelling north to access both locations.