The southern intersection of Loop Rd with State Highway 1 south of Whangārei could be blocked to traffic in a plan to make the dangerous section of road safer.
A roundabout at the northern SH1 intersection of Loop Rd would also be added as part of major improvements with the increased number of heavy freight vehicles moving in and out of the area.
Plans for the preferred options were presented to the Regional Transport Committee meeting this week by the NZ Transport Agency.
NZ Transport Agency Northland system manager Jacqui Hori-Hoult said Loop Rd formed the southern section of the SH15 inland freight route and crossed SH1 south of Whangārei.
Hori-Hoult said the intersection with SH1 was a critical connection for the Northland forestry industry with logging trucks travelling to and from Northport at Marsden Pt and there were about 19,000 vehicles using the section of SH1. Thirteen per cent of those vehicles were heavy freight vehicles.
With the increasing traffic volumes and conflicting turning movements at Loop Rd and Portland Rd there is a growing safety risk on the highway and the potential for significant traffic delays.
The preferred solution for the north end of Loop Rd is a single lane roundabout, which would mean improved turning circles for semi-trailer trucks. The northbound passing lanes about 700m away would be extended to the roundabout and a new access road would be put in place to access the quarry.
Where Loop Rd joined SH1 on the southern side, opposite Portland Rd, it would be blocked off to traffic, forcing them to use the roundabout to enter Loop Rd.
Work at that intersection would also include widening of the state highway to make right turns into Portland Rd safer and realignment of the intersection to improve driver visibility.
For traffic travelling south and turning left into Portland Rd it would be made easier with the introduction of a slip lane. Wire-rope barriers and a flush centre median to separate opposing traffic would all add to safety improvements at the intersection.
Hori-Hoult said iwi had been consulted and so had the local school and Portland fire brigade after concerns were raised about blocking the southern entrance and exit.
Loop Rd resident Doug Proctor welcomed the proposed changes and the blocking off the southern end of the road.
"I can't see that being a problem for anyone. It's a very dangerous exit to head south so any plan that can make it safer is a good one."
Work is scheduled to start in December or January depending on obtaining necessary consents, funding and property.