Govt needs to speed up the Napier-Taupō SH5 upgrade

The Government should be prioritising a comprehensive upgrade of the State Highway 5 (SH5) between Napier and Taupō instead of simply lowering speed limits, National MP for Taupō Louise Upston says.

“The proposal announced today by Waka Katohi NZTA to lower the speed limit for eighty-three kilometres on the SH5 is further evidence the Government does not consider this route and the many users of it a priority.

“While lower speed limits can be useful for more dangerous sections of roads, the Government should also invest in urgent road maintenance, surface upgrades and safety features.

“A lower speed limit will only pile on additional costs in lost time and revenue for those responsible road users who already drive to the conditions and current limits.”

Prior to the 2020 election, National committed to investing $200 million for the improvements to the Sh5 route. The commitment also included an immediate fast track of the safety projects.

Ms Upston says that at the time, the road was described as ‘so patched up it looks like a patchwork quilt’ by the Road Transport Forum and there has been huge public support for an upgrade since.

Maintenance work required includes upgrading the surface and seal of the road and fixing dangerous potholes.

Major safety issues need to be addressed through the retrofitted median and roadside barriers, re-engineered and straightened dangerous corners, new passing lanes, widened shoulders, and a greater number of safe turning opportunities.

“This is sensible, shovel-ready work that can get underway quickly, creating jobs and improving safety,” Ms Upston says.

“While the evidence is clear that better, modern roads are safer, Labour has no plan and no funding to address the deficiencies.

“It’s about time the Government gets on with it and action National’s proposals to improve the poor condition of this road rather than just slowing everyone down.”

Notes to editors: A copy of National’s press release of 24 August 2020 can be found here.

Media contact: Louise Upston 0274767887