The public have been invited to have their say on what is proposed to be one of the largest safety upgrades to an existing highway ever undertaken in the lower North Island.
The NZ Transport Agency, together with Upper Hutt City Council, Porirua City Council and Hutt City Council, are hosting information days tomorrow and next Thursday about the proposed $30m upgrade to the high-crash State Highway 58 route.
The proposed improvements include 7.5km of wire rope median safety barrier.
Transport Agency Wellington highway manager Rod James says, “We share the public’s desire to turn SH58 into a much safer route, where human error doesn’t end in tragedy. These safety improvements will protect drivers from oncoming traffic, reduce the risk of collisions at the Moonshine Rd intersection, and introduce safer speeds.”
Upper Hutt City Council Mayor Wayne Guppy has welcomed the proposed safety improvements.
“The proposed package of works to improve the safety and quality of State Highway 58 should go a long way to ensuring that this essential east-west link route across the Wellington region becomes safe for both commuter and commercial transit.
“For too long this stretch of road has posed a risk to users and has inhibited the confidence in drivers wishing to quickly traverse from the coast to the Valley. The remedial works and the proposed improvements may not offer comfort to the families of those who have been seriously injured or killed on this road, but they may prevent others from experiencing such tragedy in the future.
“I urge all residents across the Hutt Valley to attend the information days to understand and support this proposal, and I congratulate NZTA on their recognition of the urgency of this work.”
The information days present an opportunity for the project team and members of the public to discuss the proposals to reduce deaths and serious injuries on State Highway 58 and some connecting local roads. The public will be invited to give feedback, with decisions being made early next year.
Since 2009, there have been 156 accidents on SH58 between State Highway 2 at Haywards Hill and the Pauatahanui Roundabout. Twelve of these were serious, and led to four deaths.
Details for the information days are:
What happens next.
The proposals to improve safety on SH58 include installing wire rope safety barriers, straightening some tight bends, introducing safer speeds to the area and building a new roundabout at Moonshine Road.
This comprises a $2.5m project to immediately improve the stretch of road between Harris and Mt Cecil Roads that is currently reduced to 50km/h; reducing the speed limit; and proposals for wider-reaching physical work over the next three years.
“With the summer construction season around the corner, we’re taking the opportunity to fix the curves on the western side of Haywards Hill. Here, a stream has, over time, compromised the road’s integrity by washing away its foundations and leaving it at risk of falling apart. To reduce this risk, the speed limit has been reduced to 50km/h since late 2013 over a 1km length of the highway.
“As this area has recently been the site of two crashes that left two people dead and two seriously injured, the Transport Agency is carrying out safety improvements with urgency while it’s carrying out the necessary remedial works.”
Tenders for the physical work have closed and the Transport Agency expects to award the contract soon.
Mr James says the $2.5m upgrade will happen soon, and the $30m package of improvements will be discussed in coming months and will get underway next year, subject to funding.
This first-stage work involves straightening the road, installing 700m of wire rope safety barrier to protect motorists from head on collisions, and improving drainage to maintain the road’s integrity. This work is in line with the long term plan for the road.
“State Highway 58 is a demanding route, with a number of tight, difficult curves and roadside hazards such as steep drop-offs, streams running close to the road and heavy tree growth.
“Realistically, it will always be a challenging drive, but this doesn’t mean we should accept that death and injury are inevitable. We recognise that people will make mistakes, and the road needs to be more forgiving so driver error doesn’t lead to tragic consequences.”
More information about the early work and the complete $30m package to turn around the poor safety record of this key route will be available at the information day, or on the website(external link).
For more information please contact:
Media Manager - Central
T: 04 894 5251
M: 027 213 7617