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Emphasis on state highway safety in Northland

Transit New Zealand places emphasis on state highway safety in Northland

The opening of two new passing lanes on State Highway 1, at Mangapai River and Hewlett's Road, represents another milestone in Transit New Zealand's ongoing programme to improve safety on the state highway network in Northland.

At present there are some $40m worth of safety improvement projects recently completed and in various stages of progress on the 714km state highway network from Wellsford to Cape Reinga.

The Hewlett's Road passing lane was officially opened today by the Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau, The Honourable Dover Samuels, at a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the occasion on Friday 27 February. Also present were members of the Northland Regional Council, the Northland Regional Land Transport Committee, the Whangarei District Council, the Far North District Council and the Kaipara District Council, as well as other key Northland stakeholders.

A number of new SH1 passing lanes - both north and south of Whangarei - are improving safety for Northland road users. In all 13 additional passing lanes (three of which were completed last year) totalling 15.5km are being developed at a cost of $9m.

Four of six passing lanes programmed for SH1 north of Whangarei have already been opened at Towai, Hukerenui and Waiotu, with the latest to be completed at Otonga Flat South. The fifth and sixth passing lanes - northbound at Otonga Flat North and southbound at Longhill - will be completed later this year.

The first of another seven passing lanes south of Whangarei, at Lagoon Bridge (southbound), was completed late last year and is followed now by Hewlett's Road (1.3km northbound) and Mangapai River (1.3km southbound).

Two other passing lanes - Flyger Road (southbound) and Tauroa Stream (northbound) - are presently under construction. The last two - at Uretiti Road and Brook Road (both northbound) - will be built later this year once land purchase has been completed.

Other important safety improvement projects that are moving ahead in Northland include:

* SH1F: the extension of seal over the last 20km of highway between Waitiki Landing and Cape Reinga is to be completed over the next four years at an expected cost of $6m. * SH1F: Waiharara, construction of a 2km realignment to straighten out an accident-prone curve, recently completed at an expected cost of $1.5m. * SH1F: Waipapakauri, north of Awanui, construction of 1.5km realignment, to be completed this year at an expected cost of $1.6m. * SH1: safety improvements between Loop Rd and Smeaton's Hill, including the upgrading of the highway intersection with Portland Road and Loop Road to be completed within the next three years at an expected cost of $2m. * SH1: realignment of 1.2km of highway at Oakleigh and the construction of two bridges, including a railway bridge, to be completed next year - subject to obtaining Deed of Grant from Tranz Rail - at an expected cost of $4.9m. * SH1: construction of a roundabout at the intersection with One Tree Point Road, to facilitate the increased traffic from both north and south travelling to and from Marsden Point, to be completed next year - subject to the completion of land acquisition and finalising statutory consents - at an expected cost of $2.3m. * SH1: seal widening and clear zones over the 8kms between Kaiwaka and Ross Road to be completed over the next two years at an expected cost of $2m. * SH10: the construction of an improved alignment over the Kaingaroa Hill is due for completion by the end of this year at an expected cost of $2m. * SH10: construction of further safety improvement through Kaingaroa village to be completed next year at an expected cost of $500,000. * SH10: upgrading of the Kerikeri intersection, to address the accidents that are occurring, to be completed within the next two to three years at an expected cost of $1m.

In addition to the larger projects, Transit has an ongoing programme of smaller safety proofing projects to reduce the number of hazards in the state highway road reserve, which cause increased severity in crashes throughout Northland. Involving the installation of guardrails, seal widening and the construction of clear zones at strategic points along the state highways, some $2.2m will be spent on safety proofing projects by June. These include:

* SH11: widening the seal on the tourist route between Kawakawa and Paihia. * SH1: guard-railing sections of the highway through the Brynderwyn Hills and between Whangarei and Oakleigh. * SH1: seal widening and drainage retrofitting at Pretty Bush just north of Wellsford

A further $1.3m will be spent in the next financial year on smaller safety proofing projects on sites identified by crash reduction studies as needing remedial action. These include:

* SH1: in the Kaitaia urban area * SH12: at the Baylys Coast Road intersection north of Dargaville * SH10: at Coopers Beach where safety improvements are needed to ensure a more appropriate speed limit in this fast developing area. * Cycling and walking improvements are also programmed over the next three years in Whangarei and Dargaville, as well as in 14 other mainly urban areas throughout Northland.

Says Transit Regional Manager, Wayne McDonald, "Northland is one of New Zealand's fastest growing areas both in terms of social and economic development. Certainly, it is one of the most important tourist areas and a modern, efficient and safe road infrastructure is a vital component in ensuring that Northland is able to realise its enormous potential. For this reason, Transit is wholly committed to playing its part by delivering and maintaining a world class state highway system to the region and its people."

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