AA says Government must seize the day on Wellington highway upgrades

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineApril 30, 2020

After years without progress, now is the time for critical highway improvements in the Wellington region to finally happen, says the AA.

The AA Wellington and Wairarapa districts have called for long-needed upgrades to SH1, SH2 and SH58 in response to the Government‘s search for infrastructure projects to help stimulate the economy in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Several major highways in the Wellington region simply aren‘t up to the standard they need to be,” says AA motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon.

“Plans to substantially upgrade SH58, and SH2 in the Wairarapa have been struggling to make progress for years, and SH1 north of Otaki has major safety issues, but now is the time to finally deliver the improvements they need.

“The current situation gives us the opportunity to fast-track the work that should have happened well before now.”

SH58 and SH1 between Otaki and Levin have among the highest crash risk of any highways in New Zealand, while SH2 around Masterton has been struggling to cope with growth in that region.

Despite all being part of the Government‘s flagship Safe Network Programme, since 2018 there has been little progress in upgrading them with improvements like median barriers, wider shoulders, roundabouts and safe passing opportunities.

“Everyone knows what needs to be done on these highways to make them safe and fit for purpose,” says Noon. “It will be a tragedy if the work they need continues to be stalled for even more years as we come out of lockdown and people start driving again.

“The recovery from the current crisis gives us the chance to take a big step forward in the safety and quality of roads right around the country.

“The Government cannot afford to miss the opportunity to finally deliver some of these long-needed transport projects in the Wellington region.”

The key projects the Wellington and Wairarapa AA districts are urging the Government to push go on are:

  • Fast-tracking SH58 safety improvements

  • SH1 safety improvements between Manakau and Ohau

  • SH2 Carterton to Masterton intersection upgrades

  • SH2 upgrade at Mount Bruce

  • SH2 upgrade between Upper Hutt and Te Marua

  • SH53 Waihenga Bridge replacement

  • Advance planning and design for second Mt Victoria tunnel.

Other AA districts around the country have identified similarly needed local transport projects, while at a national level the AA has urged the Government to supercharge investment in key areas of road safety and maintenance.