Taranaki’s emergency services and the NZ Transport Agency have joined forces to make sure delays to emergency services are kept to a minimum as construction progresses on SH3.
New Plymouth Road Policing Supervisor George White said recent planning meetings with the NZ Transport Agency and contractor, Fulton Hogan, had been critical in determining an alternative route management plan for emergency services as construction continues to ramp up over summer.
“The project is going to be a big improvement for the city and while the traffic will be kept flowing during construction, the reality is that at times there will be delays. We are well aware that when sections of SH3 are temporarily narrowed, drivers may not be able to make room for emergency vehicles to get through. The Police, Fire and St John have worked with NZ Transport Agency to set out an alternative route for emergency vehicles.”
The proposed alternative route will allow emergency services to use the existing right hand turn lane on Devon Street East to access SH3. To allow for this the intersection layout will be adjusted temporarily and then additional changes will made to create the final layout. The interim changes will include removal of the the right hand turn out of Devon Street East, reshaping of the traffic island, new line markings and flexible posts.
Regional highways manager David McGonigal said the Transport Agency would look to make temporary improvements to increase visibility and turning capacity for emergency vehicles prior to the longer-term planned layout changes that are to be made to the intersection.
“The safety of the public is absolutely paramount, and these measures will ensure emergency vehicles can respond quickly.
“We are aiming to implement the temporary changes in early January 2015 so that when sections of SH3 are narrowed next year, emergency services can easily get to where they need to be”
St John Ambulance District Operations Manager Ian May said creating an alternative emergency services route is important to maintain efficient emergency services and that public support is required.
“St John receives a lot of calls so people can expect to see more emergency vehicles on Devon Street East whilst construction is underway and we do appreciate the public support to help us get to where people need us as quickly as possible.”
The sentiment was also supported by the NZ Fire Service Taranaki Area Manager Patrick Fitzell who said that emergency services will continue to closely monitor how they services might be impacted by the construction.
“Getting fire trucks through heavy traffic can be difficult and whilst Taranaki is fortunate to have the ability to call on Waitara and Inglewood brigades we will need to make sure that we can get to incidents as quickly as possible.”
NZ Road Transport Association area manager Tom Cloke said its members are being asked to keep off the Devon Rd & Fitzroy alternative route to try to minimise congestion for emergency vehicles.
“It’s great the local emergency services are working together with the contractors and other road users. This is what is great about Taranaki – everyone pitches in to make sure that the public get the best possible outcome. Our association will do whatever we can to minimise heavy traffic travelling through the work area as we understand the wider benefits of the project to the region” he said.
Cycling New Plymouth President Geoff Mackle also said members of the Cycling New Plymouth club are going to be doing their bit by using the Devon Street East and Coastal Walkway routes while the road is narrowed and cycle lane removed temporarily through Northgate Road.
" We will get the message out to our members and to as many other cyclists as possible
"The recent warm weather has meant that there are a lot more people currently riding to work."
"We want every rider's journey to be as safe as possible and look forward to the completion of this work to enhance safe cycling in the city"
Mr McGonigal said to keep delays to a minimum, contractors will be intending to carry out all work on the south side of the road first and then work on the north side. There are parts of the project that are tight in terms of space, especially with the rail lines in close proximity.
“We are delighted about the joint initiative with emergency services. They have been really proactive and positive, and it is this type of collaboration which will ensure the public can maintain a high level of confidence in their services.” he added.
Mr McGonigal says the Agency wishes the public a safe and enjoyable holiday break.
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