A multi-million dollar redevelopment of a Hawke's Bay intersection rated as one of the highest risk rural intersections in New Zealand is expected to start later this year.
But a New Zealand Transport Agency spokesman says there is still "a lot of work" to be done before work starts on the Hawke's Bay Expressway-Meeanee Quay intersection, known as SH2-Watchman Rd.
The "preferred option" includes a roundabout at the intersection, and creating a new airport entrance off Watchman Rd, west of the intersection.
The agency has been consulting with a wide range of "stakeholders", including road user groups, residents, the Department of Conservation, local environmental interests, Napier City Council, and iwi. With the mix of airport traffic, through-traffic and a high volume to and from Napier Port the current layout puts the intersection among the top 10 high-risk rural intersections in New Zealand.
The agency says the intersection "has a poor crash record, and can be generally confusing for road users".
Its state highway manager, Chuck Dowdell, said the agency is looking to identify the best solution, considering the road use and safety aspects, the urban/rural mix in the area, and a need to preserve delicate wetlands.
"We're confident that by working closely with the community and key stakeholders we'll develop a solution that provides Hawke's Bay residents and visitors with safer journeys in our region," he said.
Further announcements are expected in the next few weeks.