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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

From today, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is asking for feedback from communities in and around Ōtaki and Levin about proposed safety improvements and current speed limits on State Highway 1 (SH1).

In the five years from 2016 to 2020, seven people lost their lives and 28 people were seriously injured on SH1 between Ōtaki and Levin.

“We want everyone who uses our roads to get to where they’re going safely. Safe speed limits and infrastructure improvements will save lives and reduce the number of people seriously injured on New Zealand’s roads,” Director of Regional Relationships Linda Stewart says.

Waka Kotahi is planning a combination of safety improvements to SH1, including painted wide centrelines, side and median barriers, three new turnaround locations and a new roundabout at the SH1/SH57 intersection. Some safety improvements have already been installed in Manakau and Ohau.

These safety improvements are part of the Ōtaki to north of Levin programme of works which focuses on improving the safety and resilience of the road while Waka Kotahi continues working to deliver a new 24-kilometre four-lane highway to the east of the existing SH1 within the next decade.

“When the new highway is open, SH1 will continue to connect communities and be an important local road. In the meantime, traffic volumes on this stretch of SH1 will remain high so we are focused on improving safety for both local and through traffic,” Ms Stewart says.

“We want to tap into local knowledge and find out what people think of our proposed infrastructure changes, as well as the current speed limits on SH1 between Taylors Road in Ōtaki and just beyond Kawiu Road north of Levin.

“Even when speed doesn’t cause the crash, it’s what will most likely to determine whether you or someone you love is killed, injured, or walks away unharmed from that crash. That’s why we need to make sure that speeds are safe and appropriate for the road.

“As a busy state highway with both high-risk intersections and rural residences, it is important the speed limits on SH1 reflect the risk on the road. We want to hear what locals and people who travel this route regularly think about the current speed limits, how they use the road and what their concerns might be.”

Feedback gathered through the engagement period will feed into the technical assessment of the road to help Waka Kotahi determine whether to propose speed limit changes to improve safety, where any proposed new speed limits would begin or end, and if any other safety improvements are needed.

Improving safety on New Zealand roads is a priority for Waka Kotahi. Road to Zero, New Zealand’s road safety strategy, sets us on a path to achieve Vision Zero, a New Zealand where no one is killed or seriously injured on our roads.

Road to Zero

To achieve Vision Zero, we need to create a safe transport system that recognises humans make mistakes and is designed so that these mistakes do not need to cost lives. This requires a mix of solutions that all combine to keep people safe, including safe speed limits and safety improvements.

The public engagement period runs from today, Wednesday 14 July, until Wednesday 11 August.

How to have your say

People can find out more and have their say by:

  • Visiting nzta.govt.nz/sh1-south-of-levin
  • Emailing O2NL@nzta.govt.nz
  • Phoning 0508 625 4636, or;
  • Writing to O2NL Engagement, Private Bag 6995, Wellington 6141, or;
  • Attending one of the drop-in sessions:
    • Tuesday 20 July, 5pm–6.30pm at Ohau Hall
    • Tuesday 27 July, 5pm–6.30pm at Ōtaki Memorial Hall
    • Wednesday 28 July, 5pm–7pm at Manakau Hall
    • Saturday 31 July, 10am–2pm at the Ō2NL Project Office, 171 Oxford Street, Levin

What local residents say

Kuku resident Gioja Townshend has lived next to SH1 for 17 years and welcomes safety improvements on SH1.

Gioja says while this investment in safety is positive news, the decision to continue building the new highway will make an even bigger difference.

“Building the new highway is quite simply the most essential safety and road network improvement for our region. It’s not a nice to have, it’s a must have.”

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