SH1 South Waikato – safety improvements celebrated 


Sections of State Highway 1 in south Waikato are being made safer with the installation of central and side barriers.

Today Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency announced safety improvements on SH1 south of Ātiamuri were nearing completion, and construction would start soon on another section nearby.

“Waka Kotahi has identified several stretches of SH1 from Piarere to Taupō that can be made safer through road widening and the installation of flexible safety barriers,’’ says Regional Manager for Infrastructure Delivery, Jo Wilton.

These works are part of the Road to Zero safety strategy. It’s about designing a safer system, which acknowledges that while we all might make mistakes, those mistakes shouldn’t cost lives.

Barriers act like a safety net for vehicles and absorb the impact of a crash. This significantly lowers the chance of people having head on crashes, or hitting something harder like a tree, or power pole.

Under Road to Zero, Waka Kotahi has installed 132km of median barrier to date on state highways (as of July 2023) and 415km of roadside barrier (as of April 2023).

New projects will cover an additional 30-80km of median barrier to meet an overall target of between 170km and 220km operational or in construction by mid-2024. 

“These upgrades mean the road is more forgiving if someone makes a mistake, with crashes less likely to result in death or serious injury,’’ Ms Wilton says.

The 4.5km section at Ātiamuri, from north of Maroa Road to Tram Road, is largely completed at a cost of around $12.5 million.

While the barriers are in place, finishing works are required this summer, such as final reseals and patches for areas that didn’t receive a second seal due to the unusually wet conditions.

“Next up our contractors will begin installing more barriers on the 6.9km section nearby from the Waikato River bridge, past Ātiamuri village to Thorpe Road,”  Ms Wilton says.

The cost is estimated at $24.5 million.

The 93km of SH1 between Piarere and Taupō has various stages being considered for safety improvements, including between Piarere and Tirau. The timing of construction for this section is subject to detailed design completion and negotiations for any land purchase required, and construction funding being confirmed.

Public information sessions have been held this week with the final one on Saturday, 9 September, 10am-12 noon at the Tirau Hall.

Opportunities for safety improvements on the rest of SH1 Piarere to Taupō will be investigated and constructed if and when funding becomes available.

The Ātiamuri milestones were marked today with a small gathering of iwi and stakeholders near the site where work gets under way later this month.