The Government has announced $1.4 billion to make dangerous roads safer over three years to save lives and prevent serious injuries.

The Safe Network Programme will make 870km of high-volume, high-risk State Highways safer by 2021 with improvements like median and side barriers, rumble strips, and shoulder widening, according to Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter.

The ministers announced the spending today at Dome Valley, a treacherous section of SH1 between Warkworth and Wellsford, where 36 people have died and 102 seriously injured between 2000 and October 2018.

New Zealand's high road toll has been under scrutiny as the number of fatal and serious injuries has escalated.

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The programme will target an estimated $600m to $700m of state highway safety improvements and $700m to $800m of local road safety improvements. Once complete, the improvements are expected to prevent 160 deaths and serious injuries every year.

Among the projects already under way are new safety barriers and line marking between Taupiri and Gordonton in the Waikato, similar work between Cambridge and Piarere, improvements between SH1 and Shannon in the lower North Island, and a dangerous section of road on the outskirts of Christchurch between Marshlands and Burwood.

Work is due to start this summer on 39km of SH1 through Dome Valley. Other imminent projects include a stretch of SH16 between Brigham Creek and Waimauku in Auckland, between Hamilton and Whatawhata, the Hawke's Bay expressway, and between Waitara and Bell Block in Taranaki.

Twyford said the programme would quickly build urgent safety improvements to save lives.

"Drivers will inevitably make mistakes and it's the Government's job is to stop those mistakes turning into tragedies.

"This year, far too many New Zealanders have lost their lives or been seriously injured in crashes that could have been prevented by road safety upgrades," he said.

The treacherous stretch of road through Dome Valley north of Warkworth has claimed multipe lives.
The treacherous stretch of road through Dome Valley north of Warkworth has claimed multipe lives.

Genter said: "Our Government believes it is unacceptable for anyone to be killed or seriously injured on our roads."

"Annual road deaths in New Zealand increased from 253 just a few years ago in 2013, to 378 last year. The number of serious injuries increased from 2020 to 2836 per year over the same period.

She said no other industry accepted hundreds of people dying each year as normal.

"No person I know thinks losing a loved one in a crash is an acceptable price to pay for living in a modern society. That's why we're making safety a priority.

"Local councils will be offered a higher level of central government funding to fix high-risk, local and regional roads. Over half of all fatal crashes happen on local roads and we recognise central government funding will help make these roads safer sooner," Genter said.

A programme of local road safety projects is already under development. The first projects are expected to begin next year.

The NZ Transport Agency will speed up the time it takes to deliver safety projects by fast-tracking the approval process for standard, proven safety improvements.

Applying the new fast-track process on projects like the SH1 Dome Valley upgrade would have shaved nine months off the project timeframe.

"Regions with the highest rates of deaths and serious injuries - Waikato, Auckland and Canterbury - will be prioritised in the first year of the programme. It will then be rolled out to other regions including the Bay of Plenty," Genter said.

The programme will include a nationwide advertising campaign to help raise awareness and conversation about why we must change some of our riskiest roads to prevent more road trauma, the minister said.

Safe Roads and Roadsides – construction under way

Central North Island

SH3: SH37 to Te Kuiti Safety improvement project delivering 14km barriers, 10.6km line marking, signage improvement, shoulder widening. February 2019.

SH27: SH26 to SH24 Safety improvement project delivering 19.5km barriers, 138km line marking, signage improvement, shoulder widening. November 2018.

SH1B Taupiri to Gordonton Section 3 Safety improvement project delivering 1.8km barriers, 36.5km line marking, signage improvement, shoulder widening. November 2018

SH1: Cambridge to Piarere Safety improvement project delivering 2.8km barriers, 11km line marking, signage improvement, shoulder widening. May 2019.

ISH23: Waitetuna to Raglan – Stage 1 & 2 Safety improvement project delivering 2.2km barriers, 43km line marking, signage improvement, shoulder widening. August 2019.

Lower North

SH57: SH1 to Shannon Safety improvement project delivering 14km barriers, 42km line marking, signage improvement, shoulder widening. December 2018.

SH2: Wairoa to Bay View Safety improvement project delivering 8.5km barriers, 30km line marking, signage improvement, shoulder widening. August 2019.

South Island

Waipara to Waikari Safety improvement project delivering 6.3km barriers, 40km line marking, signage improvement, shoulder widening. June 2019.

SH74: Marshlands to Burwood Safety improvement project delivering 6.5km barriers, 10.6km line marking, signage improvement, shoulder widening. May 2019.

SH2: Pakipaki to Waipukurau Safety improvement project delivering 13km barriers, 37km line marking, signage improvement, shoulder widening. December 2019.

Safe Roads and Roadsides – construction starting 2018-19

Upper North Island SH16 Brigham Creek to Waimauku Safety improvement project to improve safety and efficiency for road users on the stretch of State Highway 16 between Brigham Creek and Waimauku in Auckland. Currently in design. Quarter 2 December 2018.

SH1 Dome Valley Safety Improvements – Stage 1&2 Safety improvement project delivering 6km barriers, 39 km line marking, signage improvement, shoulder widening. Estimated Construction start early 2019.

Central North

SH23 (Hamilton to Whatawhata), NSRRP Safety improvement project. Quarter 2 December 2018.

SH2B/SH50/SH50A Hawkes' Bay Expressway Safety Treatments Safety improvement project, will deliver median barrier. Currently out to tender. Quarter 2 December 2018.

Safety improvements in Safe Network Programme include:

• Fixing dangerous corners.

• Installing roadside and median safety barriers.

• Shoulder widening.

• Further safety improvements for high risk intersections.

• Rumble strips.

• Improving skid resistance.

• Improving rail level crossing safety.

• Setting safe and appropriate speed limits.