$27m bid to make Northland roads safer

By Mikaela Collins

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Northland roading experts are hoping an investment of at least $26.9 million towards improving Northland roads will reduce the region's high road toll.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges and Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss yesterday announced a $600 million nationwide road safety programme to help bring down the country's road toll with an indicative figure of $26.9 million going towards improving Northland highways.

Northland road policing Senior Sergeant Ian Row said any improvements to Northland roads was positive.

"The safer journeys strategy in New Zealand is based on the fact that no matter what we do, people make mistakes. But when people make mistakes it shouldn't lead to people being badly injured or killed.

"If someone does at the moment in Northland it leads to very serious injury when it could lead to minor injury," he said.

Northland's road toll currently stands at 18 deaths compared to 11 deaths at the same time last year.

It is forecast the roading improvements will result in 900 fewer deaths and serious injuries on our roads over the next 10 years, Mr Bridges said.

Safety improvements will be made to more than 90 high-risk sites on rural State Highways in 14 regions, including the five sites in Northland, and will include nearly all high-risk roads where there have been five or more fatalities in the last five years.

The projects in Northland include: SH11 Haruru Airfield to the Lily Pond bridge to widen shoulders and install side barriers; SH1 Toetoe Rd to Springfield (excluding the Loop Rd Intersection) which could involve median and side barrier treatments along the corridor (to be confirmed after an investigation phase); and SH12 Dargaville to Tokatoka which will see strips applied to the edge and centre lines over three seasons.

SH1 from Ohaeawai to Whangarei and SH1 and SH12 to Wellsford are also included in the programme and a project investigation will start in 2016/17.

Mr Row said improving the roads was only one aspect which would contribute to reducing the road toll in Northland.

"It goes along with education, making sure people are fully aware of their obligations as well as being fully aware of what a good driver is," he said.

Roadsafe Northland Whangarei and Kaipara road safety education programme manager Gillian Archer said the investment was "wonderful" and hoped it would contribute to reducing Northland's road toll.

"Any improvement has to be good. No matter how safe the roads are it's down to road monitoring, not driving fatigue and driving safe."

- Northern Advocate

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