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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

Work to make State Highway 1 (SH1) between Piarere and Taupō safer will get underway this month, after an iwi blessing of the work site.

Ka ora te tangata, ka ora te iwi – If the people are well then the iwi will thrive. 
(Evelyn Forrest, General Manager Ngāti Tahu-Ngāti Whaoa Runanga Trust)

The blessing, led by Ngāti Tahu-Ngāti Whaoa, signals the beginning of the first stage of safety improvements on this section of SH1 and calls for guidance and protection over the work and the people involved.

The first stage of safety improvements will see flexible median safety barriers and roadside safety barriers installed on the 4.5km stretch of SH1 between Maroa Road and Tram Road, south of Ātiamuri.

Higgins Contractors has been awarded the construction contract for this stage, following a tender process. Site investigations will begin this month with physical works starting in June and will take approximately eight months to complete, subject to weather and any Covid related delays.

Waka Kotahi Director Regional Relationships Waikato/Bay of Plenty, David Speirs, said the safety improvements are part of Road to Zero – NZ’s road safety strategy – a vision of zero deaths and serious injuries on our roads.

Road to Zero – NZ’s road safety strategy

“We want to make the road and roadsides safer for everyone. These upgrades will mean the road is more forgiving if someone makes a mistake.”

Road safety barriers help keep vehicles on the road, out of opposing lanes, and protect road users from roadside hazards like power poles and trees.

“They make a big difference in reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured,” he said.
Between 2015 and 2019, 30 people were killed and 46 people were seriously injured on this 58km stretch of state highway from Piarere to Taupō. 

The next stage of the project will see flexible median safety barriers and roadside safety barriers installed on the 6.9km section of state highway from Ātiamuri Bridge to Thorpe Road, subject to funding.

“We’re continuing to engage with iwi, partners and stakeholders on the design for this next stage. Further safety improvements between Piarere and Taupō will follow during the next 10 years, after feasibility work is completed and funding allocated.”