Fewer deaths on highways the hoped-for result from upgrades.

It's hoped a $15 million upgrade of highways leading in and out of Rotorua will significantly reduce deaths and serious injuries on the region's roads.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges announced a $73.9 million revamp of the Bay of Plenty and Waikato's most dangerous roads yesterday. It is part of a $600 million Safer Roads and Roadsides Programme aimed at improving more than 90 high-risk sites on rural state highways in 14 regions throughout New Zealand.

Mr Bridges said the project included nearly all high risk roads where there have been five or more fatalities in the last five years.

State highways in the Rotorua region will benefit from $15 million worth of safety improvements, with work scheduled for State Highway 33 Te Ngae to Sun Valley; State Highway 33 Sun Valley to Paengaroa; State Highway 5 Tarukenga to Ngongotaha and State Highway 30 Owhata to Te Ngae junction.


The safety upgrades will target causes of crashes by including a mix of road improvements, realignment of corners in some areas to improve visibility, side barriers, median barriers, rumble strips, wide centre lines, road marking and improved signage.

Rotorua MP Todd McClay welcomed the announcement.

"This is fantastic news for the Rotorua electorate. Investment into upgrading the safety of the highways leading in and out of the city will significantly reduce deaths and serious injuries."

"We know that eight of 10 fatal and serious injury crashes on state highways occur on rural roads and 85 to 90 per cent of those are head on or where the driver runs off the road," Mr McClay said.

He said work was due to start during 2017 and would be carried out over the next six years. In January Rotorua man Cam Morgan lost his wife Teresa in a head-on collision on State Highway 5 at Tarukenga - a high risk area identified to receive $3m in safety

"It's always very hard to lose your soulmate or family member due to a road accident. It's so sudden and unexpected."

Mr Morgan said he welcomed the news, especially if it meant safety barriers were installed in the centre of the road to prevent vehicles crossing into the wrong lane.

"Considering my wife passed due to a head-on accident, any improvement to roading that reduces these sorts of risk is definitely a positive step forward."

Road safety projects planned for Rotorua highways:
- SH33: Te Ngae to Sun Valley. $4.9 million.
- SH33: Sun Valley to Paengaroa. $6 million.
- SH5: Tarukenga to Ngongotaha. $3 million.
- SH30: Owhata to Te Ngae junction. $1.5 million.
- SH34: SH30 to Kawerau. at a cost of $625,000.
- SH30: Te Teko to Awakeri. $3.6 million
- SH2: Wainui Rd to Opotiki. $1.5 million.