Project introduction

There’s been a high number of crashes on State Highway 3 (SH3) between Waitara and Bell Block so we’ll be making some changes to help save lives. Over the next few years we’ll build roundabouts at high-risk intersections along the route and add sections of median barrier.

  • Estimated project cost

    $82 million
  • Project type

    Safety improvements
  • Project status

    Construction

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Project overview

SH3 is an important connection between New Plymouth, Waitara and beyond. It connects the Taranaki and Waikato regions, providing an important link for Port Taranaki, the New Plymouth Airport and major industries to the rest of the upper North Island.

  • About the project

    Busy intersections, speed and roadside hazards like power poles and ditches cause safety issues on the road. There were 178 crashes on this route between 2014 and 2023. Six people died and 32 people were seriously injured.

    Many of these crashes happened at intersections or involved drivers running off the road and hitting trees, power poles and deep ditches. There have also been head-on and side-on crashes.

    Traffic is increasing on this part of SH3 which is causing delays, particularly for commuters. Anticipated residential and business growth in the area is expected to increase traffic which will create more congestion and make it difficult for drivers to get on the highway.

    Following engagement with key stakeholders and the community, early safety improvements were carried out in February 2019. Further improvements including wide centrelines were implemented early 2021.

    Roundabout concepts for the high-risk intersections at Princess Street, Waitara Road, SH3A (Mountain Road) and De Havilland Drive/Airport Drive were refined in mid-2021 to speed up construction.

    This process was undertaken after investigations identified it would take a number of years to progress the roundabouts developed in 2018 to construction due to significant land, stormwater and costs associated with them.

    An additional $53 million in funding was secured in 2021 to deliver the project.

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  • Flexible median barrier

    Flexible median barriers are a key part of this project.

    Flexible median barriers put something between you and an oncoming car, truck, or motorcycle. This means that if someone loses control or drifts across the centreline, the result isn’t a deadly head-on crash.

    Many of the crashes on SH3 between Waitara and Bell Block are head-on or at intersections so the combination of median barrier and roundabouts will significantly reduce the risk of these types of crashes.

    Flexible median barrier will be installed along SH3 between Waitara and Bell Block in sections. The designs for the first two sections of flexible median barrier have now been confirmed. These designs were finalised following engagement with landowners and businesses along the route, emergency services, and representatives from the freight industry.

    The first section of median barrier is complete and starts from approximately 300m west of the intersection of SH3 and Bayly Street and ends approximately 40m east of the Mamaku Road intersection. This section of median barrier does not impact on access to properties or side roads.

    The second section of median barrier will start approximately 40m west of the Nelson Street intersection and will end at the future Waitara Road roundabout. This will be installed once construction on the Waitara Road roundabout is complete. People driving on the road who need to turnaround will be able to use the Princess Street roundabout or the Waitara Road roundabout.

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Waitara Road roundabout

On 6 May work will start on the roundabout at the intersection of SH3 and Waitara Road.

The roundabout, as well as safety improvements to the section of Raleigh Street between SH3 and Tate Road, will make it easier for people to get on and off the highway. Once the roundabout is constructed, people will be able to access Tate Road directly from SH3.

Raleigh Street will be one way only between SH3 and Tate Road. This will ensure that people entering Raleigh Street use the roundabout, which is the safest entry point. To keep the roundabout safe, traffic leaving Raleigh Street will only be able to turn left onto SH3, there will be no access to Raleigh Street from SH3.

The layout of the intersection of Tate Road and Raleigh Street will also be changed from a 4-way intersection to a T-intersection.

The Waitara Road roundabout is the second of 4 roundabouts being built as part of Te Ara Tūtohu.

Construction on the Waitara Road roundabout is expected to be complete by late 2025.

  • Construction stages

    Construction of the Waitara Road roundabout will be completed in stages:

    Stage 1 (May – late 2024)
    During stage 1 workers will complete the following:

    • Stormwater work (this includes the installation of new drainage pipes, stormwater swales along Raleigh Street and SH3, and a stormwater outfall).
    • The relocation of underground services (such as power and internet) along SH3 and Tate Road.
    • Pavement work on Tate Road between the intersection with Raleigh Street through to SH3 following the relocation of underground services and stormwater works.
    • The installation of temporary pavement adjacent to the northbound lane of SH3 (this will be needed during stage 3 to allow traffic to flow in both directions).

    Stage 2 (late 2024 – early 2025)

    During stage 2 a temporary roundabout will be installed at the intersection of Tate Road and SH3. This will allow traffic to travel safely through the intersection during stages 3 and 4. Workers will also relocate underground services and complete pavement and stormwater work on Raleigh Street (between SH3 and Tate Road).

    Stage 3 (early 2025 – mid 2025)

    During stage 3, the section of the roundabout on the southbound lane will be constructed. Temporary pavement will also be installed down Waitara Road to keep the road open to 2 lanes of traffic during works.

    Stage 4 (mid 2025 – late 2025)

    During stage 4, the roundabout on the northbound lane will be constructed.

    Stage 5 (Late 2025)

    During stage 5, pavement rehabilitation work will be completed on a section of SH3 north of the roundabout that needs strengthening.

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  • Traffic management

    We are working with Fulton Hogan to ensure construction of the roundabout causes as little disruption as possible.

    We previously advised that traffic management would start at the intersection from Monday 6 May. Due to a change in the work programme, there will no longer be any temporary traffic management needed on SH3 for the first week of works. 

    From Monday 13 May:

    • A 50km/h temporary speed limit will be in place on SH3 through the intersections with Waitara Road and Raleigh Street, and on Raleigh Street from the intersection of SH3 through to the intersection with Tate Road.
    • SH3 will remain open to two lanes of traffic.
    • There will be no right turn into Raleigh Street.
    • Tate Road, from the intersection with Raleigh Street though to SH3, will be closed to everyone except residents. This will allow workers to complete necessary work on the road in preparation for it connecting with the roundabout.
    • All properties on SH3, Raleigh Street, and Tate Road will be accessible for residents during these works.

    Traffic management will change as we work through each stage of construction. We will provide updates prior to any significant changes taking place.

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  • Staying safe

    To ensure the safety of residents and people using the road we will be closely monitoring traffic management and making adjustments if necessary.

    What you can do to help keep everyone safe:

    • Stick to the temporary speed limits and keep an eye out for people walking and cycling.
    • When out walking and cycling, be aware of the increase in traffic and take extra care.
    • Report any issues or instances of poor driver behaviour to NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi or NZ Police.
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Princess Street roundabout and pedestrian underpass

We’re in the final stage of construction of a safety enhancing roundabout and pedestrian underpass at the intersection of SH3 and Princess Street in Waitara.

Since February, workers on site have been busy completing work on Princess Street west. Over the last couple of months, they have:

  • completed stormwater work
  • excavated and rebuilt the road
  • completed the retaining wall on the pedestrian underpass
  • built the pump station that will pump water out of the underpass
  • installed streetlights, footpaths, and traffic islands.

They are now ready to start on the final pieces of work for the roundabout and pedestrian underpass. This will include completing the roundabout itself, installing streetlights on SH3, and laying down asphalt.

An underpass is being built as part of the Princess Street intersection upgrade to provide safer access across the highway for pedestrians and cyclists.

Making sure people feel safe using the underpass has been a key priority of the design. New lighting will be installed at the intersection and the underpass will be lit day and night. The underpass has been designed so users can see right through it before entering. CCTV will also be installed for added safety.

Manukorihi, Ngāti Rahiri, Otaraua, Pukerangiora and Puketapu hapū (ngā hapū) have worked with Tihei Design and Workshop Studio to develop a cultural expression for the walls of the underpass and those leading up to it.

This work is the first part of a wider cultural narrative being developed for the road between Waitara and Bell Block.

The variety of cultural expressions for the corridor will give ngā hapū the opportunity to once again have a physical presence on the landscape and to depict and share their rich stories for the benefit of the community.

Each of the expression sites will be distinct, and to ensure connectivity with other sites along the corridor, novel design strategies will be used, similar to those depicted in the present Princess Street plans.

  • Traffic management from Sunday 21 April

    To allow this work to take place, the temporary roundabout at the SH3/Princess Street intersection will be removed and the road reduced to one lane from the evening of Sunday 21 April until mid-June 2024.

    Stop/go traffic management will control the flow of traffic through the intersection. The temporary 30km/h speed limit will remain in place.

    Princess Street between Armstrong Avenue and SH3 will remain closed to traffic. Residents in the closure area will continue to have access to their property, and pedestrian access across the Princess Street intersection will remain open.

    People travelling to or from Waitara from Princess Street will need to use Nelson Street or Bayly Street. Those wanting to access Princess Street west from Princess Street east (Tikorangi side) will need to use Bayly Street.

    We anticipate that all work on the roundabout and pedestrian underpass will be complete by mid-June 2024.

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  • Virtual flythrough video

    Watch the video below for a virtual flythrough of what the roundabout, underpass, and Manukorihi Park stormwater treatment wetland swale will look like once construction is complete.

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Roundabout concepts

SH3 Waitara to Bell Block speed review

Following public consultation new safer speed limits were implemented on this stretch of road in December 2020, making the speed limit a consistent 80km along the entire route.