Loop Road is the southern portion of an ‘inland freight route’, which crosses SH1 south of Whāngārei. The intersection with the state highway is a critical connection for the Northland forestry sector on the journey to and from Northport at Marsden Point, where logs are sent for export.
At this location, SH1 is carrying approximately 19,000 vehicles per day. A high percentage is heavy freight traffic (13%), collecting a significant portion of forestry traffic in Northland. With increasing traffic volumes in a high speed environment, there is a growing safety risk and operational delays for freight traffic at this location.
Safety improvements to the SH1/SH15 Loop Road intersection and the SH1/Portland Road intersection will ensure communities, visitors and freight travel safely across the state highway network south of Whāngarei.
A two lane roundabout will be constructed at the intersection of SH15 Loop Road (North) and SH1.
As part of constructing a two-lane roundabout, a second bridge will be built alongside the existing bridge to accommodate two lanes of southbound traffic. State highway traffic will merge back into a single southbound lane before the upgraded Portland Road intersection.
The new bridge will be built to current design standards which means it will be approximately 1.8 metres higher than the existing bridge on SH1. This also means the new southbound lanes will be higher (than the existing road) on the approaches to the bridge. The existing road will carry northbound vehicles only and, due to the height difference, a centre median barrier will be installed to stop vehicles from crossing the centreline.
The project will also provide an improved Portland Road intersection with road widening to support safe right turns and a left turn slip lane into Portland Road. A turnaround facility will be constructed on Portland Road to enable vehicles exiting Oaks Road to make a safe right turn movement at Portland Road.
The intersection of Otaika Valley Road (SH15) and Loop Road (South) will also be improved to assign intersection priority to SH15 users.
As part of the safety improvements, the intersection of Loop Road (South) and SH1 will be closed to vehicles.
A flexible wire barrier will be installed across the SH1/Loop Road (South) intersection with access provided for pedestrians and cyclists only.
The barrier design allows for removal in the event the intersection needs to be reopened as a state highway detour route under emergency traffic management.
The project includes improved stormwater management and a widened culvert south of Portland Road with new culvert and sediment retention ponds north of the roundabout.