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Downer contractors have removed the old concrete parapets on the Weka Creek Bridge and replaced them with new safety barriers as part of a safety works programme on State Highway 7 between Waipara and Waikari in North Canterbury

$3.5 million safety boost for key South Island freight route

A high-risk stretch of state highway in North Canterbury has had a $3.5 million safety boost, with new rumble strips, safety barriers, signage and bridge barrier upgrades now in place.


Between 2008 and 2018, one person died and 12 were seriously injured in crashes on State Highway 7 between Waipara and Waikari, where the improvements have been made. Many of these crashes were caused by drivers losing control and driving off the side of the road. 

“This stretch of road is part of a key freight route between Picton and Christchurch,” says the NZ Transport Agency’s director of regional relationships, Jim Harland. “It gets busy with local people and travellers, particularly around holiday time, as it leads to the turnoff to Hanmer Springs, through to the West Coast and also Nelson and Picton.” 

The safety improvements, which were completed in late September, will help prevent people dying or being seriously injured in a crash in the future, he says. “We have added safety barriers to help stop run-off road crashes and rumble strips to give drivers a wake-up call if they stray across the centreline. There are sealed shoulders in front of new safety barriers to give drivers who lose control more room to recover, and improved signage to warn drivers of risks such as sharp corners and bridges.”

Making a difference

Mr Harland says Transport Agency contractors have also put in high-performance road markings that are easier to see at night and in the wet, and improved the safety barriers on the Weka Creek, Antills and Archers bridges. 

“The changes we have made on this stretch of highway will make a real difference and will help prevent a simple mistake costing a life or leaving someone seriously injured in the future,” he says. 

Downer Canterbury carried out the work, which got underway in June last year. The project is part of the Safe Network Programme, a collaborative initiative that aims to save up to 160 deaths and serious injuries every year across New Zealand’s highest-risk state highways and local roads.

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