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Partial passing lane closure for Taupo northern corridor work

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The northern end of the passing lane which currently runs up Control Gates Hill is set to close this week to allow work on the Huka Falls Road intersection as part of the northern corridor improvements project.

The work is part of the first of the five phase project that will see safety improvements and traffic signals introduced at the Norman Smith and Wairakei Drive intersection. Most of the work in the first phase will take place during daylight hours.

The partial passing lane closure will mean vehicles travelling north on Wairakei Drive from the Norman Smith Street intersection will have less time to pass uphill traffic and get back into the left hand lane in the new 50kmh zone.

Project manager Ian Gray said the partial closure was to allow contractors Higgins to safely complete the minor alterations and improvements around the Huka Falls Road intersection.

Improvements would include road markings for a south-bound cycle lane that would stretch from the new gateway into town to where the shared path starts at the top of Control Gates Hill. At this point there would be an off-ramp for cyclists to get on to the shared path, although they could also opt to stay on the road and use the shoulder to cycle down the hill.

The work also included the marking of a median strip in the north bound lane to allow a safer separation between the cycle lane, those continuing north and those turning into Huka Falls Road.

"The section of passing lane needs to be closed to allow room for the new median strip and cycle lane," Mr Lewis said. "This area is already a 50kmh zone, so the removal of this part of the passing lane - and eventual full removal of the passing lane - will result in a road environment that is consistent with that 50kmh limit."

The removal of the passing lane would also allow work to be completed closer to town around the Norman Smith Street intersection. This would include an up-hill cycle lane from the intersection up Control Gates Hill and two right-turning lanes on to Wairakei Drive from Norman Smith Street.

Improving safety, including for pedestrians and cyclists, was a driver for the project that will also see traffic calming measures implemented.

While not expected to solve all the congestion issues, particularly during busy holiday and event times, the work is expected to realise benefits in travel times for those travelling from the north into the central business district.

The design work was completed following an expert engineers report on solutions and consultation with the community as part of the Long-term Plan process.

The traffic signal design would be the latest technology that would include a ‘resting green phase’ to keep traffic flowing on Wairakei Drive when there was no waiting traffic on Norman Smith Street.

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