“Town of the Future” to leap state highway: next stage for Rolleston


Dubbed the “Town of the Future” 50 years ago by then Prime Minister Norman Kirk, Rolleston, south of Christchurch, is about to take its next big leap into the future.

As part of the Government’s NZ Upgrade Programme, around $125 million will be spent on helping people get around Rolleston more efficiently and safely, says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

The key piece of highway infrastructure included in the package of improvements will be a 114 metre-long flyover over SH1 linking the inland ports and industrial zone on the north side of the town with the residential side and schools on the southern side.

Originally proposed on a skewed angle and measuring more than 160 metres, two rounds of public consultation, technical advice and analysis has settled on a shorter, less complex and more direct flyover*. It will also cater for people walking or on bikes, says Waka Kotahi Director Regional Relationships James Caygill.

“We’ve listened to the community throughout this extensive consultation process,” says Mr Caygill. “We know that there are 750 pupils at West Rolleston Primary School on Dunns Crossing Road whose needs and safety are a key focus. Overall, people were more supportive of the recommended plan since changes were made after the first round of consultation in 2021.”

“It’s been great to work closely with the Waka Kotahi team on this much needed project,” says Selwyn District Mayor Sam Broughton. “It will provide better travel options, keep our people safe and help our District’s economy grow. Connecting the residential and industrial sides of Rolleston with a flyover will future proof the town, I also I look forward to seeing much improved traffic flow around the area.

“Based on community feedback our Council will also plan coordinated upgrades to our local road network to dovetail with Waka Kotahi’s plans.” 

Dunns Crossing/ Walkers Road intersection and more

As well as the more direct flyover which will maintain continuity of the Jones Road arterial route, there will be safety upgrades to four highway intersections and improved walking and cycling routes lining up with Selwyn District’s existing and planned shared path network. A new two-lane roundabout will help to address a serious crash hotspot at the SH1, Dunns Crossing and Walkers Roads intersection.

“We are not just planning for the 28,000 people living in Rolleston now, but also future-proofing,” says Mr Caygill. “For example, by allowing space along the highway corridor and under the flyover to add lanes in future if needed.”

Other future-focused changes to the original plan include additional highway access points to spread the traffic load and provide safer and more reliable access at the Rolleston Interchange at Weedons Road. There will be a free left turn lane onto the highway from Hoskyns Road and a new off-ramp from the southbound service road to Rolleston Drive North, connecting to Jones Road via the flyover.

Safety barriers

Flexible median barriers to prevent head-on collisions will be installed from the end of the Christchurch Southern Motorway north of the town through to Dunns Crossing Road and more signage installed to guide people as they enter the town environs.

Where to now?

The next stage for Rolleston’s transport infrastructure is detailed design starting the second half of 2023, following the current detailed business case stage, expected to be completed by mid-2023.

Alongside the detailed design stage, property acquisition and consent applications will be developed leading to a phased construction stage, expected to get underway in 2024/2025.
In terms of construction, the first step would be the Dunns Crossing/Walkers Roads roundabout which needs to be up and running so traffic can safely cross the highway before construction of the flyover begins.

The flyover itself could begin construction as early as 2026, going through to 2028.


Rolleston: the little town that grew, especially after the Christchurch quakes

From nearly 8,000 people in 2010 to 28,000 this year Rolleston is a town which has expanded well beyond its original footprint. In combination with the industrial zone and inland ports servicing the airport and the Port of Lyttelton along the rail corridor, and the completion of the Christchurch Southern Motorway Stage 2 in 2021, residential and freight transport infrastructure needed to match the momentum and ensure safety for road users – local people and business owners and people driving through or into the industrial zone from the rural hinterland.

The Rolleston Safety Improvements Project Page frequently asked questions/background:
https://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/sh1-rolleston/frequently-asked-questions/(external link)


*In 2021, people told Waka Kotahi that a skewed flyover (the original design) pointed traffic to the east and having to backtrack to access the wider industrial area was limiting. The preference was for access to all of Rolleston’s industrial areas and for the full length of Jones Road to stay connected.

Following investigations and considering everyone’s feedback from both rounds of consultation, the conclusion is for the more direct, straight flyover connection. It’s shorter and a more intuitive travel route. Emergency services also prefer this alignment. The bridge rise will feel like Prestons Bridge in Redwood for people walking or on bikes or scooters. The bridge structure is not as large and complex to build, which is better for the environment and the community.