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SH3 Napier Road speed review and infrastructure improvements

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Project introduction

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has set new permanent speed limits on State Highway 3 Napier Road, from Palmerston North to Ashhurst. We’re also making safety improvements to infrastructure between Keith Street and Stoney Creek Road.

  • Project type

    Infrastructure upgrade, Speed review

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Background

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency consulted with the public and stakeholders on the safe and appropriate speeds for State Highway 3, from Palmerston North to Ashhurst in April-May 2022.

Many people raised concerns that the current speed limits felt too high for an environment with increased traffic volumes and people walking and biking as well as accessing a school.

Safer speed limits and better designed infrastructure on this route will work together to provide the safest and most suitable solution for this corridor.

Permanent speed limits

Waka Kotahi has reviewed what the safe and appropriate speeds should be and new permanent speed limits will be in place from 23 June 2022.

These are the details of the new permanent speed limits:

State Highway 3 Napier Road Existing permanent speed limit New permanent speed limit
From 20m north of Sutton Place to 280m east of Stoney Creek Road 100km/h 80km/h

Whakarongo School Variable Speed Limit

From 200m west of Stoney Creek Road to 130m east of Stoney Creek Road

100km/h 80/60km/h
From 350m east of Hacketts Road to 500m south of Cambridge Avenue Street 80km/h 60km/h
From 500m south of Cambridge Avenue Street to 160m northwest of State Highway 57 100km/h 80km/h

New permanent speed limits map:

Map showing new permanent speed limits along SH3 from Palmerston North to Ashhurst

View larger map [PDF, 846 KB]

Investigation and evidence

When determining the proposed speed limits that we consulted on, we reviewed the speeds that people are currently driving on this road, as well as the road itself.

Through feedback we heard that most people support speed limit reductions between Kelvin Grove and Whakarongo, including a variable school zone at Whakarongo.

Many people suggested speed limits should be 50km/h or 60km/h between Sutton Place in Kelvin Grove to Roberts Line. As the road environment here is not highly developed and is primarily wide, with wide shoulders and classed as an ‘interregional connector’ 80km/h is the safe and appropriate speed at present. However, we can review the speed limits on the corridor again when infrastructure improvements are constructed (subject to funding approval). The traffic signals we are designing will support a 60km/h speed limit.

Infrastructure improvements

Additionally, we are proposing that the Palmerston North urban 50km/h zone is extended further on SH3 Napier Road, past the Bupa retirement village. We acknowledge there is a clear change of environment in this section of road and there are vulnerable road users in the area.

Provide feedback on the additional speed review proposal

We didn’t receive much feedback about the section of road from Whakorongo to Ashhurst, and most of the people who did provide feedback opposed any speed limit reduction here. We did not propose a change of speed limit for this stretch of road at this time as we would like to talk further with our stakeholders to better understand the future form and function of the road.

Feedback received about the SH3 through Ashhurst included suggestions that the speed limit should be 50km/h here, however this speed limit is suited to a highly urbanised town centre.  We believe people will comply with a 60km/h speed limit on this section and it is a safe and appropriate speed for this road at present.

There was considerable feedback about cycle safety being a concern from Ashhurst to SH57. The new permanent speed here will be 80km/h and detailed design is ongoing for a shared user path for the Ashhurst Bridge to connect with Te Ahu a Turanga.

Crash history

Between 2011-2020, there were three people killed and 80 injured in crashes on this road. 

Lower permanent speed limits, alongside safety improvements to infrastructure, are needed to reduce the number of crashes and resulting deaths and serious injuries.

Consultation and submissions

Across the four-week consultation period ending 5 May 2022 there were 48 submissions received. This included submissions form Horizons Regional Council, Palmerston North City Council and NZ Police. HRC, PNCC and Police all expressed support for lowering speed limits on the sections proposed.

Consultation summary [PDF, 438 KB]

Consultation submissions [PDF, 280 KB]

Additional speed review proposal

We are proposing that the Palmerston North urban 50km/h zone is extended further on SH3 Napier Road, past the Bupa retirement village.

We acknowledge there is a clear change of environment in this section of road and there are vulnerable road users in the area.

Map showing extension of 50km/h speed limit along SH3

View larger map [PDF, 1.6 MB]

We consulted on this proposal from 9 June to 27 June 2022. Once we have considered all feedback and made a decision on whether or not to accept the proposed speed limit change, we will publish the decision and update everyone who provided a submission.