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The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has released its plans to four-lane State Highway 1 (SH1) past Christchurch Airport to ease traffic congestion and improve safety on this busy section of highway.
As part of Christchurch’s Western Corridor improvements, the NZTA is upgrading Russley Road (SH1) between Avonhead Road and Harewood Road. The work involves widening the existing two lane road to a four lane carriageway separated by a median barrier, and upgrading the Russley Road/Memorial Avenue intersection with an over bridge incorporating a distinctive feature gateway structure.
NZTA Southern Regional Director Jim Harland says community feedback sought on earlier proposals has resulted in a number of changes to the planned improvements. Mr Harland says the changes have taken account of community and stakeholder feedback as well as the findings of studies to measure the impact of the project on the local area. While we have not been able to accommodate all requests, we believe the changes that have bee made will benefit the vast majority of users.
“Other key changes include increased access at Wairakei Road from a ‘left turn only in’ on the city side of Wairakei Road to a ‘left turn in and left turn out’. The left turn out will enable people access to Russley Road (SH1) and to the airport via the interchange at Memorial Ave. The Harewood Road roundabout will also be upgraded, improving the northern access to the airport and allows for a pedestrian and cycle underpass.”
Mr Harland said one idea raised during the consultation process was to build a SH1 bypass to the west of the airport, but assessments had shown not enough traffic would use a dedicated state highway bypass to solve the traffic congestion issues on SH1 in this area, or justify the major cost involved. We have however, drawn up alternative plans to upgrade existing roads so a local road bypass is possible behind the airport for those travelling further south, but this does not help the majority of traffic that uses Russley Road to access the airport, the city and Hornby.
It is still necessary to close access to Russley Road from Avonhead Road but the NZTA also plans to provide a new southern airport access at Dakota Park. Mr Harland says this decision is driven by growing calls for better access to the airport from the public and major stakeholders, including local businesses, Christchurch City Council, Christchurch International Airport Ltd and emergency services. This improved access is also needed to for the efficient movement of the goods, services and people needed for the Christchurch rebuild and to grow the Canterbury economy.
Applications for proposed work between Pyne Gould Stream and Harewood Road including the Russley (SH1)/Memorial Interchange and the Southern Airport Access are subject to a number of statutory approvals. These projects will be notified and via the Christchurch City Council hearing process, the community will also have the opportunity to have their say.