Highway works to prevent fatal crashes

Work has started on safety improvements on SH33 between Paengaroa and Te Ngae. Photo: Supplied.

Work has started on safety improvements intended to prevent people being killed or seriously injured on State Highway 33, between Paengaroa and the Te Ngae Junction.

Road shoulders will be widened near Paengaroa to help drivers recover if they veer off the road.

A wide centreline will be put in to help reduce head-on crashes and flexible roadside safety barriers will be installed to stop vehicles from running off the road.

The NZ Transport Agency’s Director Safety and Environment, Harry Wilson, says the work is the first stage in a larger project aimed at preventing simple mistakes resulting in people being killed or seriously injured.

“Sixteen people have died and 46 have been seriously injured on this stretch of road between 2006 and 2015,” says Harry.

“Most of these crashes were head-on or involved drivers running off the road and hitting trees, poles or deep ditches.

“We’ve talked to the community about how we can make this road safer, and we’re making these changes based on what they’ve told us as well as our research. The route is 34km long with some tricky terrain so that’s why it will be finished in three stages. The first stage is the easiest to complete and we hope to start on stage two next year and stage three in 2019.”

Work has started on the first stage and is expected to be completed by early 2018, weather permitting.

Work will stop during the state highway works moratorium period in December/January. At times, a temporary speed limit will be in place with warning signs to advise drivers that the works are in progress.

These safety improvements are part of the government’s $600m Safe Roads programme, targeting the prevention of 900 deaths and serious injuries on high-risk rural state highways over the next decade.

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