Safety improvements in Northland welcomed by NRC
Re-evaluation of a four-lane highway between Wellsford and Whangarei has been welcomed by the National Road Carriers Association, the country’s leading road transport organisation.
The project, initially announced by the previous government, was shelved nine months ago by the new Government.
Now it is being scrutinised again by the New Zealand Transport Authority under different priorities that include improved safety and regional development.
“We welcome any moves to improve road safety,” says NRC executive Officer, Paula Rogers.
The 70 km section between Te Hana and Whangarei has a particularly bad accident record with 36 fatalities in the last ten years. Half of these have involved head on collisions.
The NZTA has also identified the Whangarei to Port Marsden turn off section as particularly important because of the volume of daily commuter traffic.
“NRC has advocated for improvements on this section in particular, says Rogers.
The NZTA’s regional delivery manager Lloyd de Beer has told the Northern Regional Transport Committee, a mix of median and roadside barriers and wider centre lines was being considered.
While a four-lane option will take a long time to complete, the NZTA says it wants to start on the safety improvements as soon as possible.
Rogers says the already approved roundabout upgrade to the junction of SH1 and SH15 needed to incorporate two lanes, rather than the proposed single lane, because of the volume of converging traffic.
“More barriers are a starting point to improve safety,” says Rogers. “History has shown in other parts of the country that when a two-lane road is four laned the road toll is slashed and all motorists benefit.”
Northland based roading advocates and the NRC both say building a four-lane highway would really address the road safety problem, attract more tourists and grow the Northland economy.
“Four lanes meet the Government’s criteria of resilience, economic development and safety,” says Rogers. “And it would mean heavily laden trucks are not holding up traffic, which can lead to accidents because of impatient motorists.”