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


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Project update - November 2023

We’re making good progress on the construction of a safety enhancing roundabout and pedestrian underpass at the intersection of State Highway 3 (SH3) and Princess Street in Waitara.

Since May we’ve achieved some notable milestones, including constructing the Manukorihi stormwater treatment wetland swale, completing the first half of the pedestrian underpass, and finalising the southbound lane of the roundabout, which has involved some complex underground works.

  • Section of SH3 to be closed as next stage of construction begins

    On 11 December, Stage 3 of construction at the Princess Street roundabout will begin.

    This involves constructing the northbound lane of the roundabout and completing the pedestrian underpass. At the same time, workers will widen the road and start installing flexible median barrier between Bayly Street and Mamaku Road. They’ll also commence construction on a stormwater outfall at the northern end of the Waitara River bridge which will release stormwater into the awa.

    There’s a lot of work to do so to ensure we can get it done safely and efficiently we need to put a full road closure in place to complete the work.

  • Traffic management 11 December – 2 February

    To complete this work SH3 between Nelson Street and Bayly Street will be closed from 11 December 2023 until 2 February 2024, with a detour through Waitara township.

    Workers will be onsite 12 hours a day, six days a week except for Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Night works will be required from time to time.

    Traffic management staff will be on site 24/7. Emergency Services will be able to travel through the closure site.

    While the road is closed, workers will also install a watermain for New Plymouth District Council – preventing the need for council to come back and do this work later.

    To keep the detour route safe for everyone, we will implement a number of temporary safety changes:

    • Sections of Nelson Street and Bayly Street with 80km/h speed limits will be temporarily reduced to 50km/h for the duration of the SH3 closure.
    • A 30km/h temporary speed limit will be in place on McLean Street from Grey Street through to West Quay, at the intersection of Bayly and Princess Streets, and at the intersection of Richmond and Princess Streets. Access to and from Harris Street and Richmond Street at this intersection will also change.
    • Temporary traffic lights will be installed at pedestrian crossings on the detour route outside schools and Waitara Pool.

    We will also monitor traffic and make changes where required.

    Princess Street East/Tikorangi

    Princess Street through the intersection with SH3, and a small section of the southbound lane on Rahiri St, will be reduced to one lane under stop/go traffic management with a 30km/h temporary speed limit in place. People should expect delays of five minutes.

    There will be no access to SH3 from Princess Street.

    Residents and businesses on Mamaku Road

    The intersection of SH3 and Mamaku Road will be closed for the duration of the SH3 closure. Residents and businesses on Mamaku Road will be able to access SH3 via Waitara Road.

    The decision to keep this intersection closed was made as it would be unsafe to allow residents to travel through while construction is underway.

    We acknowledge that this is a significant inconvenience for residents and business on Mamaku Road, however this closure will allow us to get this important work done as quickly as possible avoiding prolonged disruption to the community and everyone who uses the road.

    Detour map

    View a larger version of the map [PDF, 245 KB]

  • Why we’re closing the road

    We understand that the closure of this section of SH3 and detour will be inconvenient for the local community and everyone who uses this stretch of road.

    We explored two other options for getting this work completed that didn’t involve closing the road completely. These options would have resulted in disruption for up to 18 months.

    Doing this work under a road closure for eight weeks over summer minimises the length of time traffic is disrupted and coincides with the school holidays – reducing the level of impact it would otherwise have.

    It also allows us to construct the section of the pedestrian underpass under the northbound lane at the Princess Street intersection ahead of schedule.

    From 2 February 2024, SH3 is expected to reopen to two lanes of traffic.

    The opening of SH3 may be pushed out if work is delayed by bad weather. We will keep the community up to date on how work is progressing and if we will need to keep the road closed beyond 2 February. At the latest, SH3 will be open in time for Americarna on 21 February.

  • Staying safe

    The detour will mean a lot more traffic in Waitara, particularly during peak times.

    To ensure the safety of Waitara residents and people using the road, Waka Kotahi is working with New Plymouth District Council to implement a number of safety measure while the detour is in place.

    These include temporary speed limits throughout the route, temporary pedestrian crossings and road markers and bollards to separate and slow traffic.

    The detour route will be closely monitored by traffic management crews and will be adjusted 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 along the detour route, be aware of the increase in traffic and take extra care.
    • Let your tamariki know there will be more cars and trucks on the road and encourage them to be extra careful and always cross at the dedicated crossing points.
    • Report any issues or instances of poor driver behaviour to Waka Kotahi or NZ Police.



Project overview

State Highway 3 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.

Busy intersections, speed and roadside hazards like power poles and ditches cause safety issues on the road. There were 101 crashes on this route between 2009 and 2018. Seven people died and 14 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 202 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 $53M in funding was secured in 2021 to deliver the project.

  • Waitara Road roundabout

    Construction on the roundabout at the intersection of Waitara Road and State Highway 3 is expected to get underway in early 2024.

    The roundabout as well as safety improvements to Raleigh Street will make it easier for people to get on and off the highway.

    To make the roundabout as safe as possible, the section of Raleigh Street between SH3 and Tate Road will become one-way, with traffic entering via a left turn off Tate Road. The layout of the intersection of Tate Road and Raleigh Street will also be changed from a four-way intersection to a T-intersection.

    The combination of the roundabout and safety improvements to Raleigh Street and Tate Road, will make this intersection much safer for the Waitara community and everyone using the road.

  • Princess Street roundabout

    Construction of the roundabout and pedestrian and cyclist underpass is progressing well with Stage 2 of construction currently underway. To date, some of the milestones include:

    • Construction of the Manukorihi Park stormwater treatment wetland swale. Working with our project partners Manukorihi and Otaraua hapū, approximately 2500 plants have been planted in the swale. The swale will treat stormwater runoff from the roundabout before releasing it into the Waitara Awa
    • 1500m³ of earth has been removed to make room for the pedestrian underpass
    • The first section of concrete walls for the underpass have been installed.

    Construction of the roundabout and underpass is expected to be complete by mid-2024

    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.

  • Princess Street underpass

    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 in order 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.

    Watch the video below to learn about how the underpass will make the intersection safer.



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 will start approximately 300m west of the intersection of SH3 and Bayly Street and end approximately 40m east of the Mamaku Road intersection. We are aiming to have this section installed or under construction by mid-2024. This section of median barrier will 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.

The plan and timeline for installation of median barrier between the Mamaku Road and Nelson Street intersections, and along the rest of the route, is currently being confirmed.

Roundabout concepts

Construction stages

Construction of the roundabout and pedestrian and cyclist underpass is being completed in four stages.

Stage 1 (March – May 2023)

During stage 1, we carried out site establishment works and implemented erosion and sediment controls. The wetland swale in Manakorihi Park which will treat stormwater runoff from the new roundabout was also constructed.

Stage 2 (May – November 2023)

During stage 2, we are constructing the underpass and the southbound lane for the roundabout.

Stage 3 (Late 2023 – early 2024)

During stage 3, we will construct the northbound lane of the roundabout and finish work on the underpass. We will also install the first stretches of flexible median barrier.

Stage 4 (mid 2024)

During stage 4, we will do some landscaping, complete the installation of cultural expressions, finish asphalt surfacing, road markings, install permanent signage and remove the traffic management at the site.

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.