The Government of New Zealand (NZ) has commenced work to improve highway safety and widen roads in Rotorua to provide safer and more efficient intersections.

The three-year Safe Network Programme is a NZD1.4bn ($940m) initiative to convert 870km of NZ’s high-traffic highways into safer roads.

This infrastructure development will accommodate a new wide centreline, median and roadside barriers and rumble strips, and will shorten the existing passing lane covering 8km from Tarukenga to the SH5 / SH36 roundabout.

The roundabout will be improved by including an additional lane around it and along all approach roads.

The programme is schedule to conclude the following year.

NZ Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter said: “It’s fantastic to have shovels in the ground to upgrade the SH5 / SH36 roundabout and the get work underway on the first section of the SH5 Tarukenga to Ngongotahā safety improvements this week.

“These safety improvements will not only make this stretch of road safer for those who use it, they will help address community concerns about the SH5 / SH36 roundabout. All drivers make mistakes from time to time; safety improvements like these stop simple mistakes turning into tragedies.”

Under the NZ Upgrade Programme regional package, the government is investing NZD14m ($9.4m) to improve safety along SH5 and reduce congestion at the SH5 / SH36 roundabout.

In addition, Waka Kotahi has provided NZD1m ($0.67m) through its Safe Network Programme for the design of the safety improvements.

Genter added: “This work, as part of our Safe Network Programme will help us prevent future serious crashes and help make our roads, vehicles, speed limits and drivers safer.”