Media Releases

06/28/2017 06:31 PM
New slips add to challenges in Manawatū Gorge

Manawatū Gorge RoadTwo new slips came down over the weekend near the Kerry’s wall rock face, damaging the rock fall netting that had been put in place after the Anzac day slip.

Transport Agency Highway Manager Ross I’Anson says while the weekend’s slips were relatively small, the continued instability at these slip sites is frustrating efforts to make the road safe, and the latest slips add to the complexity of the geotechnical work being undertaken by engineers to assess the safety of the gorge.

“Given the unpredictable environment in the gorge and its complex geology, it’s vital that the geotechnical assessments are thorough in order to understand what additional work may be needed to ensure the safety of road users, and to ensure that decisions on when to reopen the road are based on the best information available.”

With the Manawatū Gorge now being closed for just over two months, Mr I’Anson says he is very aware of the frustrations and stress of business owners who are affected by the Gorge closure, and motorists who need to use the alternative routes of Saddle Road and the Pahiatua Track, as well as those residents who are experiencing extra traffic flows.

“We understand how vital this route is for the region and how disruptive this closure is, but the fact is that the recent slips have significantly changed the rock faces above the road, and we need to be confident that any additional risks that the newly exposed rock might pose for road users are addressed before traffic can return. The recent slips have resulted in new cracking in the rock faces on either side of the slips and we need to identify if there is a risk of additional rock falling onto the road, and most importantly what additional work may be required to ensure safety. The geology of the gorge is complex, and these assessments must be very thorough to address that complexity.”

Mr I’Anson says while the Transport Agency has recently invested in a major upgrade of the Saddle Road to boost its resilience and connectivity at times like this when the Manawatū Gorge is closed, the length of the current closure is putting the road under added pressure.

“Given the increased traffic and associated wear and tear on Saddle Road, the Transport Agency has agreed to take over maintenance and management of the Saddle Road from the Tararua District Council for as long as the gorge remains closed, so that any repairs and remedial work are managed and funded by the Transport Agency.”

The Transport Agency expects to have more information regarding the state of the gorge by early next week.

06/27/2017 07:42 PM
Proposed safer speeds for travel through Kaukapakapa

Auckland Highway Manager Brett Gliddon says new residential development and population growth in the area has changed the way people use the state highway and the roads around it.

“There are now more vehicles travelling on this section of road and using it to access other roads in the area and that’s making it more difficult to make turns into and from the state highway.”

“The community has told us they want to see the speed limit reduced and our review shows lower speed limits will be safer for people living and travelling along this road.”

The reduced speed limit will also make it safer for the growing number of cyclists and pedestrians. The proposed speed reductions cover three separate sections of the highway.

Under the proposals the speed limit north of the village will be reduced from 100km/h to 80km/h between Kanohi Road and Moses Road. This will make it safer for people turning on and off the state highway into and out of side roads.

South of the village the proposal is to extend the current 50km/h zone a further 150m to a point 270m south east of Opoto Road which will make it safer for traffic entering and exiting the Fire Station and local school.

An 80km/h speed limit would then be in place from east of Opoto Road to near Henley Road. This would be a reduction from the current 100km/h limit.

The Transport Agency uses a Safe System approach to road safety, which maintains that while some mistakes on the road are inevitable, deaths and serious injuries are not.

“By making the road and roadside more forgiving of human error it will help reduce the risk of crashes happening and limit their severity when they do,” says Brett Gliddon.

If the proposals are supported by the community during the consultation period the Transport Agency would then set the new speed limits by making a change to the speed limits bylaw. 

06/27/2017 06:40 PM
Ruakura Road to close for beam lift
Ruakura Road bridge

The East Coast Main Trunk Rail Bridge is one of the first bridges to be built on the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway.

This work is part of the Waikato Expressway Hamilton Section project.

Ruakura Road will close between Percival Road and Holland Road on Saturday 15, Sunday 16 and Monday 17 July from 6am to 7pm. It will be open overnight.

Beams up to 31m long and weighing 51 tonnes will be transported from their manufacturing base in Auckland and then lifted into place on the bridge by two large cranes.

NZ Transport Agency Highways Manager Karen Boyt said the closure would ensure public safety.

“The closure is being held on a Saturday, Sunday and Monday during the school holidays when traffic volumes are relatively low, so disruption to traffic will be minimised,” Ms Boyt said.

Ruakura residents would still be able to get to and from their homes during the closure and beam placement will stop when trains are travelling through the site.

SH26 Morrinsville Road will be the alternative route while Ruakura Road is closed.

The East Coast Main Trunk Rail Bridge is one of the first bridges to be built on the Hamilton Section. Next summer it will provide access north and south for trucks moving sand to build new expressway embankments.

The Hamilton Section project will reduce traffic congestion, improve safety, reduce travel times and boost economic growth in the Waikato.

06/27/2017 05:01 PM
Proposed speed changes to make travel near Puhoi safer

The NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport say changing the speed limit on both the state highway and Puhoi Road will reduce crashes and near misses.

The proposed changes include extending the existing 80km/h speed limit on State Highway 1 through the Johnstones Hill Tunnel, past the intersection of the state highway and Puhoi Road.

It also includes reducing the speed limit on Puhoi Road, from 100km/h to 80km/h from the intersection with the highway until it reaches the 50km/h zone in Puhoi village.

Northland and Auckland Highway Manager, Brett Gliddon says the intersection has a high crash rate and there have been many near misses as people navigate their way on and off the state highway. There have been 6 intersection related crashes between 2011 and 2015.

“We have listened to feedback from the local community who have been asking for a lower speed limit through this area in response to higher traffic volumes.”

“The growing population in the area means more people are using the intersection and it’s become difficult for vehicles trying to turn right out of Puhoi Road against the northbound traffic which is travelling on the highway.  Lowering the speed limit to 80km/h will reduce the frequency and severity of crashes.”

The proposed changes are part of the Transport Agency’s continued commitment on behalf of the Government to making roads and roadsides safer and reducing the severity of crashes if they do occur.”

If the proposals are supported by the community the Transport Agency and Auckland Transport would then set the new speed limits by making a change to the speed limits bylaw.

06/26/2017 07:56 PM
Community help sought on SH3 safety improvements

SH3 TA to OtorohangaIt is holding three events in early July to canvas public opinion on the Hamilton to Ohaupo and Te Awamutu to Otorohanga sections of the state highway. Feedback can also be given online on the project pages.

“We want to learn more about these sections of the highway from the people who use them,” Transport Agency Highways Manager Karen Boyt says.

“We want to talk to people who live on the road, and who use the road, and discuss their ideas. There are proven ways we can upgrade the road to prevent crashes, but to get it right, we need the community’s views because it’s locals who know local roads best.”

Between 2006 and 2015 there have been four deaths and 30 serious injuries on SH3 between Hamilton and Ohaupo and three deaths and 23 serious injuries between Te Awamutu and Otorohanga. Most of these crashes were head-on collisions or resulted from drivers losing control and hitting trees, power poles or ditches or crashes at access ways and intersections.

Ms Boyt says people will always make mistakes, but there are things that can be done to make these stretches of road safer. Options include:

  • widening the shoulders to give drivers more room to recover if they lose control
  • installing side safety barriers to stop drivers running off the road
  • adding rumble strips to give distracted drivers a wake-up call before they cross the centreline or run off the road
  • widening the centreline to reduce head-on collisions.

Ms Boyt says the Transport Agency is also looking at how it can make it safer for people to cross the road in the Ohaupo township.

The Transport Agency has nearly completed adding safety improvements to the section of the highway between Ohaupo and Te Awamutu and also plans to add safety improvements to the stretch of SH3 between SH37 to Te Kuiti.

These projects are part of the Safe Roads and Roadsides programme which aims to prevent people from dying or being seriously injured on rural roads.

To learn about the treatments we use and why we use them, visit our Safe Roads webpage.

Community events

Sausage sizzle Ohaupo Rugby Club 1 July 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm
Coffee drop in Te Awamutu Library 4 July 10.30am - 12.30pm
Coffee drop in Otorohanga Library 8 July 10.30am – 12.30pm

Feedback can also be provided online