High-risk, rural roads get serious attention from Safe Roads and Roadsides programme
One of the NZ Transport Agency’s mandates is to offer a safer roading network for New Zealand motorists. However, with the death toll on our roads considered to still be far too high, a more concentrated effort was required to reduce the death and serious injury rate (DSI). This prompted the development of the Safe Roads and Roadsides programme and the formation of a delivery mechanism through a competitively procured alliance to drive the change.
As a result the Safe Roads Alliance was established to deliver the programme of road and roadside safety improvements to the State Highway network, over six years. It is made up of the NZ Transport Agency and infrastructure consultancies Bloxam, Burnett & Olliver (BBO), Beca and Northern Civil Consulting.
With the country’s large motorway networks already achieving the required safety record, the Alliance has been tasked with delivering safety improvements to approximately 50 high-risk rural state highway sections across the country in the targeted six-year period. The improvements are intended to make roads more forgiving of human error, help to reduce the occurrence of crashes and limit crash severity in line with the government's Safer Journeys strategy.
The Safe Roads Alliance procures the delivery from local contractors through the usual NZ Transport Agency’s competitive tendering model within each of the regions.
“Revised design practices and philosophies are part of the Safer Roads and Roadsides programme,” says Thorsten Froebel, Design Coordinator for the Safe Roads Alliance. “After taking into account overseas research and revisiting results from New Zealand roads, a key design change has been included which is the reduction in the reliance of ‘clear zones’.”
He says our road safety designs in the past have included a ‘clear zone’ being an unobstructed, traversable roadside area which was designed to enable a driver to stop safely or regain control if a vehicle accidentally left the road. These included slopes, swales and clear areas, each with certain value ranges that were considered acceptable.
However, research shows these are not as effective as originally thought. The use of a flexible road safety barrier is far more forgiving to the human body in a collision as it deflects the vehicle gently and thereby significant reduces the amount of the impact energy.
Thorsten says the formation of the Safe Roads and Roadsides programme means that design principles and guidelines, as set out in the programme, can be consistently implemented across all projects around the country and monitored to ensure a standardised approach.
“The Alliance is still using local firms to undertake the improvements but it has meant we can keep a close eye on what is being achieved. We have a responsibility to the public to spend the budget wisely but, more importantly, to produce the desired outcome of reducing the DSIs on New Zealand roads.”
CSP presents at the Safer Roads Design Seminar
In September the Safe Roads Alliance organised a design seminar where design engineers from around the country were asked to attend and meet key suppliers, such as CSP, to review the road safety systems available and to discuss the programme and its directives.
“In the morning session we heard from selected suppliers and got to meet the people involved,” Thorsten says. “In the afternoon the design engineers, who are working on the various Safe Road Projects, attended a workshop on the design principles adopted by the programme and it gave them an opportunity to discuss projects, share knowledge, raise concerns and have their queries answered. The seminar was successful in bringing all parties together so we can collaboratively achieve our common goal of saving lives.”
“This was a unique opportunity to talk about our business, products and the solutions we can provide to a national alliance that is now responsible for design and delivery of over $600m in road safety improvements around New Zealand,” says Paul Kelly, Business Manager for CSP. “To have that group of designers, all in one room and wanting to learn, was a great experience.”
Some facts and figures ...
- Around eight out of 10 fatal and serious crashes on state highways occur on rural roads and, of those state highway crashes, 85 to 90 per cent are run-off-road, head-on and intersection crashes
- Although the long-term trend has been downward, the road toll has recently risen from 253 in 2013 to 320 in 2015
- The highest proportions of deaths and serious injuries on all New Zealand roads are caused by head-on and run-off-road crashes
- The programme aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand’s roads by 900 over 10 years by making over 400 kilometres of rural roads safer
- Around $100 million will be invested in the programme each year over six years.
What will the safety improvement projects involve?
Safety improvement projects generally include a combination of the following engineering treatments:
- side and median barriers
- rumble strips
- curve reduction
- wide centrelines
- improved road markings and signs.
Project update ...
Fifteen months into the six-year schedule and good progress is being made. Two projects have already been completed with more at various stages of completion. Below is an update on three of the projects currently underway:
Tourist road in the north benefits from upgrade
One of the initial projects earmarked for attention under the Safe Road Programme will see CSP’s Armorwire Wire Rope barrier installed on SH11 from Haruru Airfield to the Lily Pond Bridge in the Bay of Islands. Drivers losing control and running off the road is the most common type of crash on this stretch of road and with the roadside hazards including trees and steep drop offs, these crashes have often resulted in serious injuries.
“SH11 is a link between SH1 and Paihia so it attracts a lot of tourist traffic,” explains Daniel Hoskings, Director from PD Hoskings Contractors, the road barriers installation company selected by the Alliance for the installation. “There is one section of road in particular where motorists come over the brow of a hill and it seems to catch them out. It has been the site for several serious injury accidents. It definitely warrants the safety upgrades.”
With the road improvements now complete, Daniel and his team will install 2.8km of CSP’s Armorwire Wire Rope barrier in a side-of-road application, 150m of Nu-Guard® 31 Guardrail System and 22 terminal ends. “We work with CSP all the time so we have no problems there at all,” says Daniel.
For more info on the project click here.
Waikato projects get under way
Fulton Hogan has two projects from the list of projects earmarked by the Safe Roads Programme for the Waikato with the installation of road safety barriers currently well underway.
Graeme Rush from Splice Construction talks briefly about the two locations he has entrusted to him, and the work he and his team have been asked to do.
SH30 Te Teko to Awakeri, Bay of Plenty
This project will see side barriers installed in locations where there are roadside hazards. A wide centreline will be installed along some of the route to reduce the risk of head-on crashes.
“We will be installing about 9km of Armorwire Wire Rope barrier and about 5-6kms of Nu-Guard® 31 Guardrail, plus terminals,” explains Graeme. “Due the narrowness of the roadway in places two different products have been specified. Armorwire needs a bit more room to ensure the foundations are stable, whereas Nu-Guard® 31 Guardrail System has a smaller footprint.”
For more info on the project click here.
SH1B Taupiri to Gordonton, Waikato
This stretch of road has a high crash history and the work carried out is set to address the issues of the past which have included drivers losing control on bends, crossing the centreline and running off the road. Due to the number of roadside hazards such as trees, power poles, ditches and drop-offs along the corridor there was a much higher risk for drivers running off the road to suffer severe injury or death.
“We are set to install Armorwire Wire Rope System and Nu-Guard® 31 Guardrail System - plus terminals,” says Graeme. “Both products are really good and, if installed correctly, will always perform when impacted. We installed about 80kms of wire rope barrier last year, with that amount set to grow this year, so we know what we are doing. We have worked with CSP for nine years and have a very good relationship with them.”
Graeme says that thanks to the Safe Roads Programme the Waikato will be a safer place for motorists.
For more info on the project click here.