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Safety improvement work set to start next week on Thermal Explorer Highway


Work to make State Highway 5 (SH5) safer between Wairākei and SH38, near Rainbow Mountain, will get underway next week.

Safety improvements will be made to three sections of the highway (a total of 23km in length) where there are more crashes than on the rest of the road: the northern end, towards SH38 and Waiotapu, centrally (around Mihi and the Waikato River) and at the southern end, at Wairākei.

Work will start on the northern section first, with construction of the other two sections scheduled to get underway in late 2019/early 2020, funding permitting.

Acting Director of Regional Relationships Ross I’Anson says around 6km of roadside safety barrier will be installed on the northern section of the route. Rumble strips will be added in some areas to the centre and side of the road and a wide centreline will be installed to help keep vehicles apart, reducing the risk of head-on crashes.

“This route is a key link for freight, tourism and local communities but too many people are being killed and seriously injured on the road.”

“People will always make mistakes on the road, but they shouldn’t have to die for them. This work will help stop crashes and make the crashes more survivable when they do happen,” says Mr I’Anson.

Between 2008 and 2017 there were eight deaths and 46 serious injuries on this stretch of road. Many of the crashes were head-on collisions or involved vehicles running off the road and hitting roadside hazards like trees, ditches and fences.

This project is being delivered as part of the Safe Network Programme, a collaborative, prioritised programme of proven safety interventions on high risk routes across New Zealand.

SH5 Wairākei to SH38
Safe Network Programme