New SH51 Awatoto roundabout to bring safety and efficiency to intersection


Work to construct a new roundabout at Awatoto on State Highway 51 has been brought forward a year, as works progress to make that stretch of road safer for all users.

Construction of the roundabout gets underway in December and is part of a wider project to make that stretch of road safer for all users. Installation of side and median barriers on the state highway between Waitangi and Awatoto Roads is already complete.

Waka Kotahi senior project manager Jacob Laird says getting the roundabout design, consenting and planning to this point a full year ahead of schedule is a real win for the community.

“We are grateful to everyone who has worked hard to help us get to this point,” Mr Laird says.

“We’ve worked closely with Napier City Council on a streamlined consenting process, our contractors and engineers on the construction planning, and mana whenua for the area Ngāti Parau, Mana Ahuriri Trust and Te Taiwhenua o Te Whanganui a Orotū. Ngāti Parau will play an active role in the site management alongside the archaeologist to ensure all work complies with proper archaeological and tikanga Māori processes.

“It’s essential this stretch of road is made as safe as possible and we expect these changes will make the road safer for everyone using it.

“Between 2010 and 2019, five people were killed and 28 people seriously injured on the state highway between Marine Parade and Waipatu. Between 2020 and February 2021 a further two people have been killed. All fatal crashes have occurred on the Marine Parade to Awatoto section of SH51.

Work on the roundabout begins early in December and contractors are expecting to have the work completed by May 2024.

The roundabout is being built east of the existing highway to minimise any disruption to current traffic flow.

“Before construction starts, some of the younger Norfolk pines will need to be removed and will be replaced with ten new Norfolk Pines to be planted closer to Napier. We’re currently working closely with tree specialists to ensure the road widening to the north of the new roundabout doesn’t interfere with the surrounding Norfolk Pines or their root system.

“Once the roundabout has been built and the road realigned to meet it, the existing road will be converted into reserve space, with native species to be planted between the highway and the existing rail-line.

North of the roundabout, road widening and installation of additional flexible median barriers will commence at the same time.

“If you’re driving past, you’ll see temporary fencing with orange mesh between the trees – this is a root protection fence,” says Mr Laird.

During these works, traffic management will be in place reducing the speed limit from 80km/h to 50km/h and a 30 km/h temporary speed limit in the immediate area of the roundabout construction. At the same time, the stage one area, closer to Waitangi Road will be retuned to 80 km/h.

The beach domain carpark area about 1km north of Awatoto Road, will be unavailable for the public during these works, as it will be used for contractor vehicles and materials.

“We couldn’t do this project without the support of the communities along that stretch of road and we do appreciate their continued patience as we work to make this essential part of the Napier-Hastings connection safer.

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

“Safe and reliable links between Napier and Hastings are crucial to the ongoing prosperity, resilience and connection for people and businesses in the region,” says Mr Laird.

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