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Passing lanes and safety improvements key features

Wanganui Regional Office
Media Release

30 June 2004

Passing lanes and safety improvements key features of SH plan

A number of safety improvements to rural highways and a comprehensive programme of passing lanes are the key features of Transit New Zealand’s 10-Year State Highway Plan for the Manawatu/Wanganui region, released today.

Funding is already committed for the construction of the Hihitahi Bluffs Realignment on State Highway 1 south of Waiouru, and another four rural realignments are proposed for construction in the next three years, Transit regional manager Errol Christiansen said.

“The Hihitahi Bluffs project is important as it realigns the only section of SH1 between Waiouru and Bulls still requiring major improvements. The road is out of character with the rest of this section of SH1.”

Other rural realignments scheduled for construction in the next three years are the $2.5 million Foxton South Curves Realignment on SH1, planned for a construction start in 2005/06; the $2.5 million Waiauti Bridge Realignment on SH1 south of Manukau, planned for a construction start in 2005/06; the $1.8 million realignment at the Tennent-Old West Road intersection on SH57, planned for a construction start in 2004/05; and the $1.5 million Whakaruatapu Bridge Realignment on SH2 north of Dannevirke, proposed for construction in 2006/07.

“In completing these realignments Transit is removing out-of-context sections of highway, which is consistent with its aim of providing motorists with a ‘no surprises’ driving environment,” Mr Christiansen said.

The work is part of at least $163 million worth of state highway improvements planned for the Manuwatu/Wanganui region over the next 10 years. Around $18 million will be spent on improvements in the 2004/05 financial year.

He said some of the projects outlined in the plan may be built faster and others added with additional funding Transit anticipated from a share of the regional distribution funding resulting from the Government’s December 2003 funding package, ‘Investing in Growth’ raised through an increase in petrol tax.

Mr Christiansen said 13 passing lanes would be constructed in the region in the next three years, giving motorists more frequent safe passing opportunities.

“Four new passing lanes are planned for State Highway 1 between Himitangi and Levin, a further three between Himitangi and Hunterville, one on SH2 north of Woodville and five on SH3 between Wanganui and Palmerston North.

“This is in addition to two passing lanes on SH1 at Bulls and south of Sanson, and two passing lanes on SH3 east of Wanganui and east of Sanson, that were completed during 2003/04. A further three passing lanes are currently under construction on SH2 north of Woodville.”

Construction of the passing lanes in the 10-year plan will complete the implementation of passing lane strategies for SH1 between Waiouru and Bulls, SH1 between Bulls and Levin, SH3 between Wanganui and Palmerston North and SH2 in the southern Hawke’s Bay area.

He said consultation played an important role in the development of the plan within the context of the new Land Transport Management Act (passed in November 2003). All large project proposals have been reviewed to ensure integrated solutions that fitted with the region’s local authority plans and that the benefits of the plans were sustainable.

He said the state highway network in Manawatu-Wanganui had been significantly improved in recent years, particularly with a combination of highway realignments and passing lanes, which meant it was generally of a high standard.

“While we expect traffic volumes to grow, particularly on SH1 which is one of New Zealand’s primary freight routes, we believe maintenance and minor safety improvements will generally be sufficient to maintain an appropriate level of service.”

“But in the longer term, it will be necessary to upgrade SH1 to expressway standard between Levin and Waikanae, including a bypass of Levin,” Mr Christiansen said.

As well as undertaking capital improvements, Transit will spend $139 million over the next 10 years maintaining the region’s highways. Around $16 million will be spent in 2004/05. Key features of the maintenance programme for the year include resealing 55 kilometres of highway, continuing to monitor slope stability in the Manawatu Gorge and continuing emergency recovery of the route and enhancing Transit’s management systems to reduce risk to safety and route security.
Major features of the 10-year state highway plan for Manawatu Wanganui are:

• 13 more passing lanes, for development or construction in the next three years
• five rural realignments
• two seal widening projects at:
SH1: Fagan Road North, between Sanson and Bulls
SH56: Himatangi Turn-off – Maxwells Line
• six intersection improvements
• two new cycling and walking facilities, comprising:
o pathway at St Johns Hill on SH3 in Wanganui
o a wider shoulder for cyclists between Camp Road and Old West Road on SH57.

…ends/

For further information go to: www.transit.govt.nz
Detailed maps and timing of projects are listed by region.

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