Wide centrelines to improve safety on SH1 between Taupō Airport and Hātepe

In News3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineDecember 9, 2022

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is proposing a range of safety improvements between Taupō Airport and Hātepe, while maintaining the existing 100kph limit.

Between 2009 and 2018, eight people were killed and 30 people were seriously injured in crashes on SH1 between Taupō Airport and Turangi.

In mid-2023 the agency will start work on the first phase of improvements, prioritising wide centrelines and road shoulders (including roadside safety barriers) as well as creating locations to safely pull over along the route.

“We’ve designed a range of safety improvements that will improve safety between Taupō Airport and Hātepe and give people a second chance to make it home,” said David Speirs, director of regional relationships.

“These improvements will take time, but there are steps we can take now, and widening the centrelines will improve safety.”

Long-term, Waka Kotahi is proposing to install median wire rope barriers and turnaround facilities. However, it will need to work with the community and landowners to find suitable turnaround locations and finalise the design. In the interim, the transport agency will start with road widening and installation of wide centrelines.

The safety improvements are part of New Zealand’s Road to Zero strategy that has set a target to reduce deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand roads by 40% by 2030.

“The recent changes to speed between Taupō and Turangi have helped to make local roads safer,” said Speirs.

“The feedback we received from communities asked us to keep speed limits at 100kph between Taupō and Hātepe.”

In 2019, we consulted on the safe and appropriate speeds from Taupō Airport through to Turangi. Following that consultation, new speed limits were introduced through various sections along the corridor and electronic variable school zone signs were added at Waitahanui.

Following community feedback, we are looking to maintain the existing 100km/h limit between Taupō Airport and Hātepe and make safety improvements including flexible median barriers and roadside safety barriers.

Safety improvements will be rolled out on two stages.

Stage 1 – Widening the road for wide centrelines from mid-2023; and

Stage 2 – Installing median wire rope barriers and turnaround bays longer-term.