Work on a Whangarei highway travelled by more than 19,000 cars each day is a "growing pain" but will improve safety at a busy intersection, officials say.

The installation of traffic lights at the intersection of Hospital and Maunu Rds (State Highway 14) is under way, with work to continue until March 2017.

It will include extending the cycle lanes which run from Maunu to Silverstream Rd past the Hospital Rd intersection.

The painted median strip will be extended along Maunu Rd from the hospital to connect with the existing painted median near Silverstream Rd. On-street parking along this section of the highway will be removed.


The changes were expected to help access in and out of the hospital's main public barrier-arm carpark, due to the extension of the median and installation of a right-turn bay in to the carpark.

"It's also expected that the traffic signals will create more gaps in traffic flows to help vehicles turning in and out of the carpark," said Brett Gliddon, New Zealand Transport Agency's (NZTA) Northland Highway manager.

Between now and Christmas, there would be small excavations locating underground services. The main construction would begin in the new year.

Maunu Rd has approximately 19,250 vehicle movements a day by Hospital Rd. Hospital Rd itself has 3560 a day.

Mr Gliddon said in the morning rush the new lights would have "very little" effect on Maunu Rd traffic, "as the flows out of Hospital Rd will be very light".

"During the afternoon, peak traffic on [Maunu Rd] will now be required to stop to let the Hospital Rd traffic exit," he said.

The $1 million upgrade was a collaboration between Whangarei District Council, Northland District Health Board and NZTA.

It was a requirement for an ongoing hospital development, which has included a new two-storey administration building and car parking.

Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai said the numbers of road users had increased in the area, reflecting general growth in the district.

"With growth comes growing pains, often in the form of roadworks," Ms Mai said.

"The period of disruption will be a bit frustrating but, as we have all seen at the intersection of State Highway 1 and 14, it will be well worth it in the end."

Since 2010 there had been one injury and two non-injury crashes at the Maunu Rd/Hospital Rd intersection.

Between 2010 and 2014 there were 24 crashes in the 800m of Maunu Rd surrounding the intersection.