11 May 2009
Horokiwi Intersection Safety Improvements
We would like to inform you of safety improvements that the New Zealand Transport Agency plans for the Horokiwi intersection on State Highway 2. While this is a measure to improve safety for traffic as a whole, it will significantly help cyclists on the northbound route as it passes Horokiwi Road. Work is likely to begin later this year and will be advertised closer to the time.
Our intention is to close the median barrier this year to prevent right turns in and out of Horokiwi Road. The closure is as a result of the high number of traffic accidents at or near this spot. We are aware that cyclists are often put in danger by traffic turning across the highway. A video survey on just one day in July last year captured a near miss for a cyclist passing Horokiwi Road as a car turned across the highway into Horokiwi Road.
Roading impact - northbound
The closure of the gap in the median barrier and the right-turning bay will free up space for construction of acceleration and deceleration lanes turning left into and out of Horokiwi to smooth the flow of traffic and northbound merging. This will allow us to enhance our recent project in which we installed green cycle lanes at strategic parts of SH2 between Ngauranga intersection and Petone overbridge to alert motorists to cyclists crossing their path. We will be able to extend the cycle lane across the point where traffic slows down and turns left into Horokiwi Road. Currently constraints on space prevent this.
There will be some inconvenience during the construction of the acceleration and deceleration lanes. We will ensure that the contractor is mindful of cyclists' needs during this period.
Roading impact - southbound
We are aware that the closure will cause inconvenience to those wanting to make a right turn across the highway. They will have to travel to Ngauranga intersection and back to access Horokiwi. However, we believe the safety benefits far outweigh the inconvenience experienced by a small number of cyclists who turn right. In the long-term, the link between Grenada and Gracefield being considered in the Ngauranga Triangle Strategic Study may provide alternative access. Other than that, southbound cyclists will be unaffected by the changes.
We want to ensure you are aware of what we are doing in your area. As part of our commitment to keeping you informed, please feel free to contact traffic and safety engineer Mark Edwards on 04 801 4963, 021 984 637 or email@example.com.
Horokiwi intersection is one of the worst crash locations in the Wellington region in terms of the total number of crashes. It is a rural community of about 80 households but has significant truck traffic because of Horokiwi Quarries.
Sixty-nine crashes, four of them serious, were recorded at or near Horokiwi between January 2000 and August 2008. Thirty of the crashes were attributable to the gap in the median barrier, including two serious injury accidents and nine with minor injuries.
We believe it is too dangerous for vehicles to continue to cross the highway into Horokiwi in front of on-coming traffic in a 100 kilometre per hour speed area where the line of sight is limited by a bend in the road. Northbound motorists often brake suddenly to allow others to cross into the suburb, causing traffic to come to a rapid halt behind them.
The Transport Agency has decided the gap in the median barrier should be closed to improve safety on this state highway which is the only route between the Hutt and Wellington and which has a traffic count of 43,000 vehicles passing Horokiwi each day. The closure is part of an ongoing programme to improve the safety of intersections and improve traffic flow along State Highway 2 through the Hutt.
Our decision is reinforced by the 2008 Coroner's Report into a fatal crash at the Wairere Road-SH2 intersection which emphasised the need for us to identify and address serious deficiencies in road design, especially intersections with limited sight distances that increase the risk of accidents.
The high accident rate at Horokiwi is despite the banning in 1999 of right turns out of the settlement following 17 crashes in six years caused by this move. A video survey in July last year revealed a range of undesirable and unsafe driver behaviours, including:
Two trucks turning right across the highways into Horokiwi at the same time, travelling side by side
A near collision between a right-turning car and a cyclist
Two examples where a north-bound vehicle skidded heavily to avoid running into the back of vehicles that had stopped to allow right-turning traffic through
Left-turning vehicles leaving Horokiwi forcing their way into small gaps in the traffic, forcing traffic to brake.
While the Transport Agency regrets the inconvenience the closure will cause those who wish to turn right into Horokiwi Road, we do not currently have any other options available to us. Building a flyover in this location is impracticable. Traffic lights are not feasible in this 100 kilometre per hour area where the northbound sightline is restricted.
Wellington Regional Director, NZTA