Message clear: Get on with SH3 Bell Block-Waitara safety project

Taranaki speaks with one voice in seeking urgent action on long-awaited safety improvements on the Bell Block-Waitara corridor, says the head of the Regional Transport Committee.

The Committee today confirmed the improvements as the top transport priority for the region, after hearing submissions on its Regional Land Transport Plan for Taranaki 2021-2027.

“Submitters endorsed the project’s top-priority status by a margin of more than three to one over the next priority, highway safety improvements between New Plymouth and Hāwera,” says Committee Chairman and Taranaki Regional Councillor Matthew McDonald.

“Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency should be well aware of the depth of the community’s feeling on this. We urge them to do everything they can to implement these improvements as soon as possible.”

Public consultation on the Plan drew a record 55 submissions. “Many good points were made and we appreciate people taking the time to help us in our decision-making,” says Cr McDonald. 

Many submissions raised concerns about the safety of pedestrians and cyclists negotiating SH3 through Inglewood. Waka Kotahi and New Plymouth District Council have already acknowledged these concerns and their representatives will discuss the issue at an Inglewood Community Board meeting this month.

Other submissions focused on the level of investment in roading projects, the needs of pedestrians and cyclists, the need for low-emission public transport options and greater use of rail for freight and passengers. There was also good support for the Taranaki Trails Trust’s ‘2050 vision’ for bike trails, which was included as an appendix in the Draft Plan, noting that individual projects would be led by district councils and/or community groups.

The Regional Land Transport Plan is intended to guide the long-term development of transport infrastructure, setting a broad vision and strategic framework and ranking transport priorities for the coming 10 years. Individual projects discussed in the Plan are proposed, managed, implemented and funded by Waka Kotahi, the Taranaki Regional Council and district councils.

The Plan agreed to by the Committee today will go to a meeting of the Taranaki Regional Council later this month for formal adoption, then submitted to the Government for inclusion in its national land transport plan.

Taranaki’s priorities for regionally significant transport projects, as agreed by the Committee today, are:

  1. Safety improvements on the Bell Block-to-Waitara section of SH3, including realignment of Airport Drive to meet a new roundabout at the De Havilland Drive intersection.
  2. Safety improvements on SH3 and SH3A between New Plymouth and Hāwera.
  3. New Plymouth Coastal Pathway extension from Bell Block to Waitara.
  4. Traffic signals at the intersection of Coronation Avenue (SH3) and Cumberland Street, New Plymouth.
  5. Traffic signals at the intersection of Vivian Street and Morley Street (SH45), New Plymouth, and traffic signals at the SH3-Henwood Road interchange at Bell Block. (A pedestrian underpass at SH4 at Oākura had also been included but this project is not proceeding.)
  6. Brecon Road extension, Stratford.

The Regional Transport Committee is made up of representatives of all four Taranaki councils and Waka Kotahi. It is administered by the Taranaki Regional Council.