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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency will begin construction this month on making access to Hohepa and Waitangi Regional Park safer, and providing a new direct cycle path on State Highway 51 between Ngaruroro and Clive rivers.

The northbound passing lane on this section of State Highway 51 has become increasingly unsafe and will be removed.

“Safety is a top priority for the Transport Agency, and we know from our monitoring of the area and our engagement with the community that this passing lane has become increasingly unsafe,” Transport Agency Regional Transport Systems Manager Oliver Postings says.

“With the new Whakatu Arterial Route taking a lot of the heavy vehicles towards the Hawke’s Bay Expressway, the passing lane no longer serves its original purpose.

“By removing the entire passing lane, access to Hohepa can be made safer and improvements can be made to the cycleway connection between Clive and Napier. This is great news for the Clive community and local cyclists.”

Between 2014 to 2018, there were six injury crashes, including one death and two serious injuries, along the highway between Hellyers Lane to Tutaekuri River bridge, making it a high risk area.

Police reports of the area show that driving behaviours that contribute to an unsafe environment include speeding, unsafe passing, undertaking, and crossing the centre line.

Inspector Matt Broderick, Road Policing Manager, NZ Police says, “We are regularly called out to this area because of poor driver behaviour and decision making. Changing the layout of the road to single lanes in both directions and a cycle lane, will help create a safer environment for all road users.

“We are committed to achieving the Government’s Vision Zero Strategy and working in collaboration with the Transport Agency is one of the ways we will make this happen. Road safety relies on creating a safe environment, encouraging responsible and safe driving behaviour and policing driving behaviour to keep it in check.”

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) is supportive of the improved access to Waitangi Regional Park and cycle path connection.

Vicki Butterworth, HBRC Cycle Network Coordinator, says the Transport Agency improvements to access to the park will help grow walking and cycling numbers.

“The improvements will make a safer and easier option for cycle commuters, helping encourage more people to try commuting by bike. This helps reduce vehicle congestion, carbon emissions and helps our community stay fit, happy and healthy.”

Jane Parslow, Hōhepa Office Manager, says, “Hōhepa is a community of vulnerable people and making this area safer is extremely important to us.

“The current accessway is precarious for many people who turn right into Hōhepa, as excessive speeds at the end of the passing lane are difficult to navigate and dangerous. With our residents now located off site there is additional pressure on the accessway.

“Each working day of the week during peak hours we bring in the people we support with high needs to the Clive site to work and enjoy day activities.”

Render of planned changes to State Highway 51:

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