The Government has announced a $1.4 billion, three-year plan to make roads safer.
The Safe Network Programme will include median and side barriers, rumble strips and shoulder widening on 870km of state highways. There will also be speed limit changes for those roads considered to be the most dangerous, as well as more speed cameras.
The programme will target an estimated $600 to $700 million of state highway safety improvements and $700 to 800 million of local road safety improvements.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter says the improvements are expected to prevent 160 deaths and serious injuries every year.
The first projects are expected to begin in 2019. The NZ Transport Agency will also speed up the time it takes to deliver safety projects by fast-tracking the approval process for standard, proven safety improvements.
Regions with the highest rates of deaths and serious injuries – Waikato, Auckland and Canterbury – will be prioritised in the first year of the programme. It will then be introduced in other regions including the Bay of Plenty.
Road Transport Forum Chief Executive Nick Leggett says road safety improvements should include the building of critical new highways.
“We welcome the Government’s investment in the safety of existing roads; it is nevertheless disappointing that there is still no commitment for critical new state highways which would drive productivity, reduce congestion and also improve safety. Sadly, this announcement looks like the ‘one pronged approach’ and it won’t make the waka go faster.