The New Zealand Transport Agency is promising to keep Hawke's Bay's busiest stretch of highway open to traffic in both directions during a seven-month project which started last week.

But the national highways authority is also hoping motorists will use alternative routes between Napier and Hastings while the restructuring of the Hawke's Bay Expressway's intersections with Links Rd and the northern end of pre-expressway major route Pakowhai Rd.

The work, involving the realigning of the Pakowhai and Links Rds approaches and using a single roundabout to replace two intersections currently controlled by traffic lights, started on Monday and is scheduled for completion in August.

It also includes upgrading 1.38km of state highway, and does away with two sets of traffic lights. By yesterday a stretch of wider median strip on the Napier side of the Pakowhai Rd intersection had been excavated.

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In the meantime, the NZTA is encouraging motorists to help alleviate congestion through the site by taking such alternative Napier-Hastings routes as State Highway 2 through Clive, and State Highway 50 through Omahu and Fernhill, while the Brookfields and Sandy Rds route between Meeanee and Pakowhai, including the single-lane Brookfields Bridge, is also available.

NZTA systems manager Wayne Oldfield said the area of the intersections is a "well-known danger spot" and had been identified 19th in the country's most dangerous 100.

"Improving safety at this busy intersection is a priority for us," he said.

"The intersection improvements will address the significant safety issues resulting from the current layout."
He said two lanes will be available to traffic at all times and electronic signage will be in place to update motorists when diversions are required.