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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

Two sections of flexible barriers have now been installed at Awatoto in Napier as work progresses on the State Highway 51 Napier to Hastings safety improvements project.

The project has been split into three stages and includes the installation of flexible side barrier, flexible median barrier, intersection improvements, and a new roundabout at the Awatoto Road/SH51 intersection to make this section of the SH51 corridor safer.

Waka Kotahi senior project manager Jacob Laird says the changes are designed to make this stretch of the State Highway safer.

“We want to improve safety in the area, and quickly. These safety improvements will save lives and prevent serious injuries on this section of highway.

“Efficient, safe and reliable links between Napier and Hastings are also crucial to the ongoing prosperity, resilience and connection for people and businesses in the region.

“Work on stage one began late last month and our contractors will be installing wire in some places this week.

“We have tweaked the programme to focus on the barrier installation first, and we’ve been monitoring peak hour traffic flows during the installation.  The live data will assist in the planning and construction of the roundabout scheduled to begin next year.”

Mr Laird says the changes being made to the road this year will make this part of the network safer, until the roundabout is installed.

“The work is really important to Waka Kotahi and the community, and our contractor is working to make sure the project is carried out safely, efficiently and with minimal disruption to road users. There is still temporary traffic management in place at the moment, during non-peak times (between 9am and 4pm Monday to Friday). Because of the width of the highway, we are able to keep two lanes of traffic open.

Mr Laird says while the short, medium and long-term recovery and rebuild efforts after Cyclone Gabrielle remain a top priority for Waka Kotahi, this project is specialist work that our contractors have the capacity to continue with.

“Reconnecting our communities both in Hawke’s Bay and in Tairāwhiti remains crucial and work on multiple sites is progressing well.

“At the same time, the safety of unaffected sections of the network needs to remain front of mind. We recognise the ongoing need to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads nationwide.

“This project will add about 4.5 kilometres of median barrier to the nationwide tally, preventing head on collisions, saving lives and reducing serious injuries,” says Mr Laird.