Making the road safer
This increasingly busy stretch of State Highway 1 (SH1) has been identified as a road that can be made safer. We want to make it more forgiving of human error to prevent people from dying or being seriously injured.
SH1 between Whangārei and Wellsford is considered a strategic state highway, connecting the Auckland and Northland regions. An average of up to 17,000 vehicles use the road every day and that includes up to 2550 heavy vehicles.
Over the next 30 years Northland is expected to grow, with development in forestry and continued growth in the tourism industry. With this growth, there is increased pressure in terms of safety on this road.
SH1 between Whangārei and Wellsford is classified as a high-risk rural road. 41 people have lost their lives and 122 have been seriously injured in the past 10 years (2008 - 2017) on this 80km stretch.
Most serious crashes between Whangārei to Wellsford involved drivers losing control of their vehicle or hitting another vehicle head-on as well as crashes at intersections. We’re focussed on making this stretch of road safer.
What we are doing
The project has been split into three sections because it is so long.
- Northern section – SH1 Whangārei to SH1/SH15 Port Marsden Highway
- Central section – SH1/SH15 Port Marsden Highway to the northern base of the Brynderwyn Hills
- Southern section – SH1/SH12 Brynderwyn Hills to SH1 Wellsford, including safety improvements to the townships of Te Hana and Kaiwaka.
Our initial focus is on the northern section because of the higher number of deaths and serious injuries on this busier stretch of SH1.
The improvements we’re looking at include:
- Side and median flexible safety barriers to stop your vehicle before you hit something harder like a tree, power pole or, in the case of median barriers, an oncoming vehicle.
- Wide centrelines to steer drivers away from each other.
- Better signs and road markings to warn drivers of intersections, stop signs or sharp curves further down the road.
- Safer speeds to allow drivers time to react to a mistake and recover.
Ahead of these improvements, on SH1 between Toetoe Road and Oakleigh Wharf Road, 10km of wide centreline with Safe Hit posts were installed in June 2018 to deter deliberate overtaking manoeuvres, which are the leading cause of head-on crashes. Since these improvements were made, there have been no head-on crashes in this section of SH1.
The long-term Whangārei to Auckland programme can be found here.
What's happening and when
Work will start on safety improvements to Loop Road North and Portland Road intersections, including a new roundabout at Loop Road North.
We will finalise designs and seek approvals for the northern section - Whangārei to Port Marsden Highway.
From late 2019
Community engagement - we will have conversations with local communities and regular road users about the northern section to ensure the preferred option works for those who know the local roads best.
Subject to funding and approvals, construction of the Whangārei to Port Marsden Highway section will get underway March/April 2020. Detailed design of the central and southern sections will also commence in early-2020.
Thank you to everyone who attended the community open days and provided feedback. A summary of the feedback can be found here [PDF, 992 KB].