My wife and I spent Christmas with some family out of Auckland. That saw us travelling and along the way we passed what I thought was an excellent roading project and the type of thing we should be doing a lot more of instead on spending so much money on motorway scale projects, many of which don’t stack up economically. The project is on SH2 and is half way between Waihi and Katikati and is known by the NZTA as the Ardern Cottage Curves Realignment. The curves being realigned are a series of tight bends that apparently have a poor safety record (and it’s easy to see why). The image below shows an aerial view of the curves which bulge out from generally sweeping nature of the roads that surround them. The realignment cuts that bulge out.
Here is what the curves look like from the road. As you can see there are quite narrow lanes with no shoulder (so quite dangerous for any cyclists) and there is poor visibility around the curve. Before this project there a permanently installed electronic sign not far behind here reminding people to slow down for the curves. It’s not hard to see why this was a safety issue and on average just over 8,100 vehicles travel this road daily.
Here’s what the NZTA say about the project which is costing $5.1 million
The key purpose of this project is to improve safety along this corridor, however travel time and efficiency will also improve as a result of these works.
The Arden Cottage Curves Realignment project will help to improve safety along a high accident area and efficiency through this corridor of State Highway 2.
Features of the project include realigning a series of curves on State Highway 2.
The project is to be split into 2 stages:
- Stage 1 works will focus on drainage and moving services in the disused railway corridor, lying adjacent to the existing State Highway. This work will be carried out March 2013 and May 2013.
- Stage 2 works will start after the 2013 winter season, and will tie the newly built road into the existing highway. These works are expected to be completed in May 2014.
When we travelled through the realignment on Christmas Eve it was already open to traffic and despite not being due for full completion till May and there being a temporary speed limit of 70km/h the benefits of the project were immediately clear. Not only did the realignment shave off that bulge but it was easy to see it would be much safer for all road users as a result of having a straighter road, better sight lines and wide shoulders. I also think it is a wise use bit of use for that old rail corridor – which even if we had the most rail fanatic government has almost a 0% chance of ever being needed again.
So as I said it is a good project from the NZTA and at $5 million is tiny compared to some of the spending going towards the Roads of National Significance. For the same price as Transmission Gully we could get about 200 projects like this all over the country. I wonder what that could do to our road toll?