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Safety improvements for Meeanee Quay intersection

Napier Regional Office Media Release

15 October 2004

Safety improvements for Meeanee Quay intersection

Transit New Zealand today announced plans to make safety improvements at the intersection of Meeanee Quay and the Hawke’s Bay Expressway at Westshore.

Transit Napier regional manager Neville Harkness said a specialist safety audit of the site, initiated by Transit and carried out by a team of experts from New Zealand Police, the Land Transport Safety Authority, Transit and Opus International Consultants, highlighted several changes that could be made to improve safety.

“The key challenge was to figure out why motorists from Meeanee Quay drove into the path of through traffic. A human factors scientist was brought in to assist the team in understanding this.

“As a result of the investigations, the lane for traffic turning left from the expressway into Meeanee Quay will be lengthened and moved further away from the other southbound lane. This will help motorists wanting to enter the expressway from Meeanee Quay to distinguish between left-turning and through traffic.

“In addition, the central islands on the expressway will be replaced with painted islands to provide greater width for manoeuvering within the intersection, and a turning line will be provided to assist drivers turning right from Meeanee Quay to enter the correct lane on the expressway.”

Transit had already replaced the original “Give Way” control on Meeanee Quay with a “Stop” sign, he said.

There have been several serious crashes, one fatal, at the intersection since it was opened in May 2003.

Mr Harkness said Transit was also considering reducing the speed limit to 80 km/h on the section of the expressway between the entrance to Hawke’s Bay Airport and Meeanee Quay as it might help improve safety at the intersection.

“Many drivers on this section are travelling between these two intersections only and they often do not reach normal open road travel speeds. The conflict between those slower vehicles and others that have been travelling faster along the expressway or state highways north of Napier could be contributing to the crashes.”

He said there was still work to be done to determine if this would be an effective move, and Transit would consult Police, the LTSA, Napier City Council, residents, road user interest groups and other affected parties before any reduction in the speed limit was implemented.

The improvements to the Meeanee Quay intersection are part of a suite of safety projects for state highways in the Hawke’s Bay region this financial year. The work to boost safety at a number of spots, will cost approximately $750,000. It includes a number of projects such as widening seal, providing guardrails on the approaches to bridges and above steep banks, upgrading lighting and improving curves, Mr Harkness said.

“By themselves, safety projects like this might seem small when compared with major realignments that cost millions of dollars. But when you look at how many of these projects will be carried out across the region this year you see that it is a significant chunk of work. These types of safety improvements are effective and do save lives.”

He said Transit had called for tenders, and expected work at the Meeanee Quay intersection and other sites would get underway in November.

ENDS


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