Traffic lights at northern gateway to be switched on
The traffic lights at the intersection of Norman Smith Street and Wairakei Drive are set to go live about 2pm on Monday following the redevelopment of the intersection and northern gateway into Taupō.
The introduction of traffic lights marks the final milestone in the five phase project that has seen safety improvements introduced to the area over the last three months.
While residents and road users may be familiar with the general layout of the intersection, Project Manager Ian Gray said caution needed to be taken when using it as the last of the required line marking work would be done on Monday ahead of the traffic lights going live. Normal road rules applied, and digital screens on the approaches would alert motorists the traffic lights had been turned on.
“We encourage everyone to take their time using the lights and be aware of others while we all get used to the new system,” he said. “The traffic lights going live mark the end of the work and should help motorists navigate the intersection more easily and quickly. Although we do not expect the improvements to relieve all congestion issues, particularly during busy holiday and event periods, we know they will make a positive difference to travel times, particularly for Nukuhau and Acacia Bay residents travelling into Taupō town centre.”
The traffic signal design incorporates the latest technology and includes a ‘resting green phase’ to keep traffic flowing on Wairakei Drive when there was no waiting traffic on Norman Smith Street.
Mr Gray said a number of safety improvements had been made through the project. The Norman Smith intersection improvements were expected to greatly improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists as well as aid traffic flows. The north-bound passing lane on Control Gates Hill had been closed and the speed limit reduced to 50kmh up past the intersection of Huka Falls Road. Minor adjustments had been made to the intersections at Huka Falls Road and Poihipi Road. A south-bound cycle lane had been added to Wairakei Drive and the shared path alongside it widened to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and other users. Access to Waikato River via Pois Road had also been improved.
The line marking and traffic light work was originally expected to require two days of dry weather to allow completion, but to take advantage of a potentially small window of fine weather the work had been condensed so it would be completed by Monday afternoon.
The safety improvement plan was completed following an expert engineers report on solutions and consultation with the community as part of the Long-term Plan process. The project was originally expected to wrap up in August but had been completed earlier than expected.