Future proofing transport links

Published on 18 February 2021

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Many of you will have seen the great progress Waka Kotahi NZ Transit Agency is making on roundabout projects now underway in the Far North. These significant engineering projects to reduce traffic congestion and improve road safety are now nearing completion at Kawakawa, Puketona Junction and Waipapa. In Kaitaia, work is beginning on a roundabout at the intersection of State Highway 1 and Matthews Avenue.

Residents consistently tell the Council that improving our road network is their number one priority and each year we spend more on roads than any other item. Progress can seem slow: our district is big and just 35 per cent of the 2508km network is sealed. Each year we seal more with funding help from Waka Kotahi NZTA and through our own ratepayer-funded seal extension programme. This summer we are sealing sections of Porotu and Puketi Roads, Church Road in Kaitaia, and Koropewa and Pungaere Roads near Waipapa. We are also sealing sections of three strategic roads (Peria, Ngapipito and Ruapekapeka) with $20.7 million in Government COVID-19 recovery funding. Work on Peria Road is nearly complete, and work is starting on Ngapipito and Ruapekapeka Roads.

We always look for ways to make your rates dollar go further. We achieved significant savings in roading by forming the Northland Transportation Alliance with other Northland councils in 2016. We aim to build on those gains with the adoption this year of an Integrated Transport Strategy. This sets out key priorities to help us build a transport system that best supports our people over the next 30 years. It will identify key transport challenges and provide guidance on how to respond. We also have an Integrated Transport Plan that prioritises individual roading projects to address current transport issues. This was approved by the Council last September. 

One of six priorities identified by the Integrated Transport Strategy is to improve road safety and we will invest $2.5 million this year to achieve that. New roadside barriers worth $1 million will be installed on Kaitaia Awaroa Rd, Kapiro Road, Rawene Road, and West Coast Road. These are all high-risk rural roads where extra barriers will help reduce injuries to motorists by absorbing the force of a vehicle impacts. Another $1 million will see new ‘rumble strips’ or audible road markings applied to Tai­pa-Fairburn Loop, Waiare Rd / Wiroa Rd and Wehirua Rd, Kaitaia-Awaroa Rd and Old Bay Rd / Te Ahu Ahu Rd. Rumble strips counter the effects of driver fatigue, a key cause of serious crashes in Northland, reducing injury crashes by 20-45 per cent. A further $500,000 will go towards improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists by applying simple road layout changes, such as raising pedestrian crossings or improving approach ramps to slow traffic where pe­destrians cross.

You can provide feedback on the Integrated Transport Strategy as part of consultations for our Long Term Plan 2021-31 next month. To learn more about the Plan and the Strategy, enter the term ‘Transport’ in the search field above.