Horowhenua mayor Bernie Wanden has welcomed news a roundabout will replace a busy Levin intersection he had long described as "extremely dangerous".

Wanden was reacting to news from NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi this week that the intersection at Queen St and Arapaepae Rd will be replaced with a major roundabout.

"Look, it's very pleasing. It has been a big talking point for a number of years now and we've taken a long time to get to this space," he said.

As traffic volumes increased, locals had described crossing the intersection as like playing "Russian roulette", and grim statistics showed there had been 11 serious crashes in the immediate area in the last five years.

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Horowhenua District mayor Bernie Wanden is pleased to see improvements planned on the dangerous stretch of road.
Horowhenua District mayor Bernie Wanden is pleased to see improvements planned on the dangerous stretch of road.

Wanden said while the community had long campaigned for something to be done, it was sad that nothing really comes to bear until crash statistics start to tell a story.

"It's extremely dangerous and in the end it's unfortunate that statistics and data tell the story," he said.

Wanden said a lot of work had been done behind the scenes to ensure a range of safety improvements were on the table.

"We see this as an extension of the work which needs to happen on the current network. With the new highway still some eight or more years away, there is still a lot of work to be done on the region's roads."

NZTA is proposing a range of safety improvements in addition to the roundabout, all aimed at preventing deaths and serious injuries on State Highway 57, between State Highway 1 and Heatherlea East Rd.

An accident on the dangerous Queen St and Arapaepae Rd intersection in 2017.
An accident on the dangerous Queen St and Arapaepae Rd intersection in 2017.

Director of regional relationships Emma Speight said the proposed safety improvements will keep the road safe ahead of the new highway opening in 2029.

"State Highway 57 will continue to be an important local road after the new highway is completed, and it's important that we tackle the safety issues on the existing road right now," she said.

"These improvements will make the corridor safer in the meantime, while work progresses to deliver the new Ōtaki to north of Levin highway within the next decade."

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The new roundabout at the SH57/Queen St intersection would slow approaching vehicles and make it easier to choose the right time to enter flowing traffic.

Roundabouts can reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured at busy intersections by up to 65 per cent, she said.

Plans also include the installation of stretches of side barriers and wider centrelines. Painted wide centrelines provide more space between lanes, which can reduce serious crashes by up to 20 per cent.

Images from another motor vehicle accident on Arapaepae Rd near Levin that were on file.
Images from another motor vehicle accident on Arapaepae Rd near Levin that were on file.

Speight said side barriers could stop vehicles before they hit something less forgiving, like power poles or drainage ditches. They can reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured by up to 30 per cent.

"We are asking residents and locals to share their thoughts on the planned safety improvements. Input from the community can help fine tune the proposed improvements and will make sure we have all the information we need to make them fit-for-purpose," she said.

The safety improvements were a continuation of the work further north on SH57 to Shannon, completed in early 2020.

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Waka Kotahi is also reviewing the current speed limits on SH57 between SH1 and Shannon to make sure they are safe and appropriate for the road.

Regardless of the cause of a crash, speed is most likely to determine whether anyone is killed, injured or walks away unharmed.

"Engagement with the community on speed helps us get feedback and local knowledge on how the road is used and any concerns. This feedback will help us determine if a speed limit change will improve safety," she said.

Waka Kotahi is hosting five drop-in sessions around Levin and Shannon between July 21-25.

These sessions are an opportunity for people to talk with the team about the project, explain the next steps, answer questions and hear feedback.

More information about the planned safety improvements, how you can submit feedback and when the drop-in sessions are is available at: www.nzta.govt.nz/o2nl-SH57-safety-improvements

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