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State Highway 16 (SH16) between Brigham Creek and Waimauku needs to be made safer. In the past 10 years (between 2006 and 2015), four people have lost their lives and 30 have been seriously injured on this stretch of road. This places this stretch of road in the top five percent of high-risk state highways nationally.
Almost half of these crashes were caused by drivers losing control and running off the road or crossing the centreline and hitting an oncoming vehicle.
We’re adding safety improvements to SH16.
We’re putting in flexible road safety barriers along SH16, except between Taupaki and Kumeu. Between Taupaki and Kumeu we’re putting in a safe area in the middle of the road (known as a flush median) to provide more room and a safe place to turn, while keeping traffic flowing.
Between Brigham Creek and Taupaki roundabout we’re adding extra lanes, so there will be four lanes (two in each direction). We’re building a roundabout at the SH16/Coatesville-Riverhead Highway intersection. Between Huapai and Waimauku we are considering a safer and more appropriate speed, widening the narrow bridges and making it safer to turn and use the intersections at Foster, Station and Factory Roads.
Where we can, we’ll put in flexible roadside safety barriers to protect vehicles where there are dangers on the roadside like power poles, trees and deep ditches. We’ll also add a sealed road shoulder that will be a minimum of 2m wide for people who cycle. This work is estimated to cost $53 million.
Too many people are dying or being seriously injured along SH16 and we know that the safety treatments we are putting in are proven to help save lives.
|Flexible road safety barriers in high-risk areas||
|Road shoulder widening||
* High Risk Rural Roads Guide, published September 2011, NZ Transport Agency. First Edition.
We are looking at making three intersections safer. We are improving things like lighting, sight lines (how far you can see so you can make a safe decision to turn), left turn lanes and some shoulder widening if this is needed at these intersections:
We want to ensure there is enough room on the shoulder for drivers to be able to safely pull over in an emergency or if they break down. Parking is not encouraged on the state highway, so we are working with the local businesses to find other areas where motorists can park safely.
Upgrades at these intersections are being planned as part of the Huapai Triangle Special Housing Area by Auckland Transport and the Transport Agency.
Through our public consultation we heard many of you are concerned about motorists high speeds in the area. As part of our speed review programme we are proposing to reduce speeds in between Kumeu and Waimauku. In 2019 we consulted on lowering the speeds in the area and analysing the feedback we have received.
This project will help to address some of the existing congestion issues associated with growth by:
The focus of this work is to improve safety in the short term, ahead of other long term projects that will need a lot more time for consenting and planning processes. This project is the first part of a bigger package of work aimed at addressing growth and congestion in Auckland’s north-west.
The Supporting Growth investigations have indicated an alternative route may more effectively address the capacity issues for Kumeu-Huapai than four laning SH16. Both options will be considered as part of the detailed investigations that will start this year, tasked with identifying the preferred option.
Any future projects, such as an alternative route to SH16 and a new public transport network, need significant planning and consenting to be finished before any work can start.
These projects are among those identified through the Supporting Growth programme. It is a 30-year plan for potential improvements that aim to align land use development with investment in all modes of transport services. However, it also notes that in Kumeu and Huapai land use development is expected to increase over the next 10 years or so, and ahead of that, development in the Whenuapai and Redhills areas.
Therefore, planning and consent processes for all the projects in the Supporting Growth programme will be staged and in line with land use development. The next step is for the Transport Agency and Auckland Transport to work together with Auckland Council to confirm projects and undertake consultation with potentially affected property owners, stakeholders and the public.
A dedicated left turn slip lane on the Coatesville Riverhead Highway approach to the roundabout was looked in to during the early stages of the project. In order to incorporate a slip lane, the proposed roundabout footprint would have to be made larger to allow for vehicles to safely merge and provide adequate sight distance. An extensive amount of property would also be needed. In addition, slip lanes encourage higher speeds which in turn would make it unsafe for pedestrians who are wanting to cross at the roundabout.
Our traffic team have undertaken modelling of the proposed roundabout to understand its performance. The modelling is a way to predict how the roundabout will function after it is built. The model findings showed the vehicle delays and queues, on all legs of the roundabout, would be acceptable. The approaches to the roundabout will be designed so drivers have to slow down, which in turn creates gaps in the flow of traffic, allowing other vehicles opportunities to enter the roundabout from adjacent approaches. Unlike the current intersection, there is no incentive for traffic coming from Kumeu to slow down or create safe gaps for those turning from the side road.
We’ve split the project into two stages. Stage one runs from Huapai to Waimauku and stage two is between the Brigham Creek roundabout to Kumeu.
We’ve started on the section between Huapai and Waimauku where there are slightly less complexities and where half of the crashes were head-on. Work will start on this section while we confirm aspects of the design for stage two.
The contract for stage one is expected to be awarded in mid-2020. We were due to commence enabling work in April 2020, beginning with relocating a gas main at Berry’s Bridge. However, with the recent announcement on COVID-19 this means we need to stop non-essential services for a period of four weeks. Construction crews across the country will be working to close down Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency construction sites. This includes the works that were scheduled to start on Berry’s Bridge. Stage one will be constructed over two construction seasons – finishing late 2021.
It’s important we make the improvements that are right for the road, and that work for the people who use it and live along it, while still keeping traffic moving and minimising delays. This is a complicated stretch of road with increasing numbers of vehicles and other large-scale projects.
We’ll go through a competitive tendering process to find a contractor to build the safety improvements.
We’ll plan our improvements so that we avoid the need to buy land where possible, but to help widen the road, we may need some land. We’ll have details once our design work is finished.
Someone from our team will contact every landowner whose property may be affected. This includes both landowners whose land might be needed for the project and landowners whose driveway access might be affected during construction.
We’ll also send out information to everyone along the road so that people know what’s happening and have the chance to talk with our team.
We’ll talk to people whose land is affected about the process and their options once we‘ve confirmed whether any of their land is needed. But if you do want to find out more, you can find information on the Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) website.
You don’t need to worry about utilities like water pipes and power cables that the council or power company has put in within the road boundaries. If you have a utility that you’ve had put in yourself, then we might need to talk to you.
While we don’t encourage people to pull over on a state highway there’ll still be gaps in the barrier, especially around driveways, if you do need to pull over completely in an emergency.
Where side barriers are put in this will mean there are some places where you can’t pull completely off the road.
Overall, the sealed road shoulder will be wider than it was before so you’ll have more space to recover if you make a mistake, or need to pull over in an emergency.
Cars will usually be able to pull onto the shoulder beside the safety barrier. Road safety barriers may prevent some wide vehicles from pulling off completely so there are regular gaps in the side barriers, usually every 400-500m where possible, as well as at intersections and driveways.
Vehicles wanting to pass slower traffic will need to wait until the slower vehicle can pull over into a gap in the side barrier. While this may require some patience and understanding, it makes the road safer for everyone.
With barriers, the road space is clearly defined so agricultural or large vehicles won’t be weaving on and off the shoulder.
The widened road shoulder and the widened centreline will mean there’s room for agricultural vehicles. We’ll also be leaving some gaps in the barrier, at driveway entrances and intersections, so that people driving large or wide vehicles can use to pull off the road completely.
When wide agricultural vehicles need to make a right-hand turn, they can still pull off to the left side of the road and turn right when it is safe to do so.
For most of the route the wide shoulder will provide enough room for most agricultural and large vehicles to pull over.
There will be no changes to emergency procedures when side barriers are installed. If there is an accident blocking a lane, and cars are trapped in the lane between the flexible road safety barriers and the accident, the barrier can be released and dropped, in 60m sections, creating a bypass. Wide driveway accesses along the route will allow trucks to move further off the lane and will provide extra space for emergency services to pass. Emergency vehicles can also use the opposite side of the carriageway to pass queued vehicles and access the incident.
There will be gaps left in side barriers at designated bus stops. School buses will also be able to pull over safely at driveways to allow passengers on and off the bus.
We’re making this road safer for everyone and this includes people riding bikes. Wherever we put in a side barrier we’ll make sure there’s space between it and the road for cyclists.
Motorcyclists don’t have the same protection in a crash as the occupants of vehicles, and special consideration needs to be given for how to keep them safe. Roadside and median flexible safety barriers are highly effective in preventing deaths and injuries for all road users including motorcyclists. The Safe System approach to road safety holds that while mistakes are inevitable, deaths and serious injuries are not. The Transport Agency is investing in improved roads and roadsides that are increasingly safer for motorcyclists when they or other road users make mistakes.
Motorcyclists have been opposed to flexible road safety barriers because they think the steel ropes will act like a ‘cheese cutter’ when hit by a rider. However, studies have shown this assumption is not correct. Motorcyclists are more likely to survive an impact with a flexible road safety barrier than an impact with trees, poles or oncoming vehicles which the barrier will prevent them striking in a crash.
The University of New South Wales has undertaken an in-depth analysis of motorcycle impacts into roadside barriers in both New Zealand and Australia. The data shows that barriers of any kind contributed to a very small percentage of motorcycle fatalities. A study of the New Zealand motorcycle-barrier crash data from January 2001 to July 2013 shows of 20 motorcycle fatalities sustained as a result of riders hitting a roadside or median barrier, just three involved flexible safety (wire rope) barriers, while 13 involved traditional steel ‘W’ beam barriers and four other barrier types. Over the same time period there were 97 motorcyclist fatalities from collisions with posts or poles, 70 from hitting traffic signs and 93 from crashing into unprotected trees.
Between Huapai and Waimauku the safety improvements along this stretch of road include wider road shoulders. They are wider than the minimum standard to make it safer for people who walk or bike.
Between Brigham Creek and Kumeu we have gone through a process to confirm that this part of the project should include a shared path. In 2018 as part of our consultation with the community, we sought feedback out this. We have requested additional funding to include this.
The roundabout will be designed to provide safe walking and cycling paths to circulate the roundabout, clear of traffic, and have designated safe crossing points through the islands.
The project team is also working with the Supporting Growth Alliance to ensure safety improvements are designed to accommodate any future work that supports walking and cycling.
We understand there is interest in pedestrian crossings at Wintour Road, Soljans bus stop and at the Coatesville Riverhead Highway intersection. These locations will be reviewed as well as other locations to see where the best places are for new crossing points. These are likely to be pedestrian refuge areas - safe places to wait and cross.
We consulted with the community in 2018 on the idea of a shared path on the southern side of SH16. This side allowed better and safer access into connecting facilities. This side also had less safety issues for people to navigate e.g. driveways and intersections. This is still the plan. We are now in the process of seeking additional funding for this.