Transport officials plan Napier Rd safety improvements

Traffic lights are planned to improve safety at the Napier Rd-Roberts Line intersection.

David Unwin/Stuff

Traffic lights are planned to improve safety at the Napier Rd-Roberts Line intersection.

Safety concerns on State Highway 3 heading east out of Palmerston North have prompted transport officials to decide traffic lights should be installed at the busy Roberts Line intersection.

The lights are expected to make it safer for all traffic, especially cyclists and pedestrians, from Kelvin Grove wanting to cross SH3-Napier Rd to get to the Manawatū River shared pathway.

There will be a pathway beside the highway from Roberts Line to Sutton Place to complete the off-road route.

NZ Transport Agency director of regional relationships Emma Speight said the decision to make improvements came after reviewing public feedback. That consultation happened in August 2018.

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Money had been released for the detailed design and consenting work, which would go out to tender shortly, while a budget was still to be secured for the actual construction.

It could be six to 12 months before the designs were completed.

The agency said it had decided to give priority to the Roberts Line intersection, while it would continue to monitor the other intersections on the 3.4 kilometre stretch of SH3-Napier Rd from Keith St to Stoney Creek Rd.

Palmerston North City Council chief executive Heather Shotter said the plan would help answer concerns people had held for many years.

The improvements would help overcome the safety problems that had arisen as urban development stretched out towards Ashhurst, while the road still had a state highway role.

City councillor Leonie Hapeta, who lived in Kelvin Grove until recently, said the decision on traffic lights was fantastic news.

“We have been banging on that drum for a long time. People in that community will be so relieved.”

The Manawatū District of the NZ Automobile Association, however, was less pleased with the traffic lights decision.

District chairman Garry​ Goodman said members would have preferred a roundabout.

They were worried about downgrading the road’s capacity to act as a major arterial route.

He said higher priority should be given to creating the long-mooted rural ring route to take heavy freight vehicles out of Palmerston North.

“Once we have that, we would have no problems with it becoming an urbanised piece of road, and our objection to traffic lights would go away.”

The agency is also considering speed reductions on the stretch of SH3-Napier Rd, another feature the AA opposed until there was an alternative route.

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