No pricy passing lanes for impatient SH23 commuters

The speed limit coming into Raglan may be reduced to 80kmh but don’t expect any passing lanes or longer slow vehicle bays to be part of plans to make State Highway 23 safer – they are too expensive to build and wont save a lot of travel time anyway.

Safe Roads has released an update on its plans to make the stretch of rural road between Hamilton and Raglan safer for commuters after seeking feedback from the community in August.

The update acknowledged that many commuters expressed a desire for more passing opportunities but they would not be considered as part of the project.

“Passing lanes and longer slow vehicle bays are expensive to build and won’t save a lot of travel time on this highway. Evidence on other similar highways does not show major safety gains from passing lanes, although we acknowledge they can alleviate some frustration.”

The update says the option of having formalised pullover areas were being explored, and if feasible these areas would be signposted in advance to encourage slower vehicles to use them.

The Safe Roads team also received a range of responses to speed management on SH23, with many in opposition of a reduction in the 100kmh speed limit.

“There was support for an 80kmh speed limit past Greenslade Rd, on the approach into Raglan. Our analysis supports this and, subject to formal consultation, this will be implemented.”

The current focus on SH23 is on the stretch of road between Waitetuna and Raglan, with construction aimed to start this summer.

Work includes: shoulder widening at high-risk locations; improved signage and centreline rumble strips; side safety barriers and rails in high-risk areas to stop vehicles running off the road and protect motorcyclists if they crash; and minor intersection improvements.

Safety for cyclists will be improved by providing a 1.5m sealed shoulder in front of new side safety barriers, and widening the shoulder to 1m in some other locations, particularly on corners.

Proposals to improve safety at intersections between Cogswell Rd and Raglan include: resurfacing the curve of the intersection of Waitetuna Valley Rd with high friction asphalt surfacing; putting in a wide flush median in Te Uku to make it safer for traffic to turn right into Okete Rd; and trimming back roadside banks to increase visibility to the east at Te Mata Rd.

At the Greenslade Rd intersection, a lower speed limit, improved signs and road markings will help improve safety until the intersection is moved 200m closer to Raglan as part of Lorenzen Bay development.

Similar work on SH23 between Hamilton and Highbrook is likely to begin at the end of next year, while safety options are still being considered for the stretch of road between Highbrook and Waitetuna.

Inger Vos