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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

Construction of the roundabout and pedestrian underpass at the intersection of Princess Street and State Highway 3 in Waitara is now underway.

The Princess Street roundabout is being built first because this intersection has the highest crash rate. There were 17 crashes at this intersection between 2017 and 2021 – more than any of the other intersections along the route. The new roundabout will make this intersection much safer for the Waitara community and everyone using the road.

Construction on the roundabout and underpass is expected to be complete by the end of 2024.

Construction stages

Construction of the roundabout and pedestrian and cyclist underpass will be completed in four stages.

Stage 1 (March – June 2023)

During Stage 1, we will be carrying out site establishment works and implementing erosion and sediment controls. The wetland swale in Manakorihi Park which will treat stormwater runoff from the new roundabout will also be constructed.

Around June, work to build the stormwater outfall will also start.

Stage 2 (Late 2023)

During Stage 2, we will start 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.

Stage 4 (mid – late 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.

Traffic management

Traffic management will be staged during construction of the roundabout and underpass to minimise disruption to residents and people using the road.

Stage 1 (March – June 2023)

From 27 March for approximately two weeks, the intersection of Princess Street and SH3 will be controlled by four sets of traffic lights so crews can undertake tree clearing works. 

People travelling through the area should allow an extra 15 minutes for their journeys. The wait times at the intersection will be closely monitored to ensure they do not exceed these times.

From mid-April for about three weeks, SH3 will be reduced to one lane from approximately 140m south of the Princess Street intersection, through to 100m north of the intersection. A 30km/h temporary speed limit will be in place along this section of road and traffic will be controlled by Stop/Go traffic lights. People should allow for delays of up to 10 minutes.

People should use Bayly Street or Nelson Street to travel to and from Waitara during this time. There will be no access to SH3 to or from Princess Street West (Waitara side). Access to and from Princess Street East (Tikorangi side) will remain open.

Safe crossing opportunities will be provided for pedestrians and cyclists crossing SH3 from Princess Street.

Crews will work Monday to Friday between the hours of 7am and 5.30pm. Night works may be carried out from time to time if required. We will notify residents and road users ahead of any night works taking place.

Map of traffic management from mid-April.


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.

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.

Roundabout concepts

Princess Street underpass

An underpass will be 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.

Underpass design (the colour of the artwork is indicative only and yet to be decided).