More passing opportunities identified for SH2 and SH35

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Motorists travelling on State Highways 2 and 35 in and out of Tairawhiti will soon have more safe passing opportunities, which will ease driver frustration and improve safety.

The NZ Transport Agency has identified 25 preferred slow vehicle bay sites, following feedback from the community and people who regularly travel between Napier and Opotiki, and Gisborne and Hick’s Bay. Detailed site investigations will now be carried out to ensure that these sites are suitable for construction.

“State Highways 2 and 35 are long and winding, and we’ve heard from locals and people who travel on these routes regularly that more passing opportunities would reduce frustration and help make the journey safer for everyone,” senior project manager Rob Partridge says.

“The feedback we got through the engagement process has helped us to decide the best sites for slow vehicle bays. In addition to the feedback, potential sites were assessed on several criteria including safety, distance between existing passing opportunities, environmental impacts and cost.

“We also heard that people wanted stopping bays with mobile coverage, so we’ve included 11 of these which will allow drivers to pull over and safely check their phone or make calls.”

Marsh says SH35 travels through a particularly challenging environment. The geology on this route is unstable and erodible, which makes the road vulnerable in high rainfall and stormy weather.

“As part of the engagement process, we also asked for feedback on the areas of SH35 where we most need to improve resilience so that the road can better withstand harsh weather and remain open and safe.

“Based on the feedback and technical assessments, we have identified more than 20 preferred sites along SH35 between Gisborne and Opotiki where we will look to strengthen the resilience of the road.”

$46 million has been allocated from the Provincial Growth Fund for the passing opportunities and resilience project, as part of the wider Tairawhiti roading package. The total cost of the project is $49 million, with the remainder of the funding coming from the National Land Transport Fund.

The contract is now out for tender, with construction currently scheduled on the first sites in spring 2020. The work is expected to take two years to complete.