The drive to Wellington is expected to take 39 seconds longer once changes are made to State Highway 1 south of Levin.
The NZ Transport Agency plans to drop the speed limit through Ohau and Manakau from 100kmh to 80kmh and spend $3.5 million improving the road.
The move, designed to make SH1 safer for motorists and residents of the two towns, was approved yesterday at a Horizons Regional Council regional transport committee meeting.
The committee had to add the work, funded by the transport agency, to the Regional Land Transport Programme. Also added to the programme yesterday was a range of projects to allow larger trucks on the state highway network.
NZTA regional planning and investment manager Delaney Myers told the committee the upgrade was a medium-term solution required for safety reasons.
"We do have a significant safety concern there," she said.
Between 2007 and 2012 there had been 19 crashes in Ohau and 16 in Manakau.
The work would change the appearance of the roadway to highlight to drivers that they were heading into a built-up area, she said. This, along with the reduction in the speed limit, would encourage drivers to slow down.
Myers said the work was part of the series of highway upgrades planned between Otaki and Foxton as part of the Roads of National Significance programme.
The upgrade included a plan to divert SH1 around Manakau, in which case the redeveloped section of SH1 would become a local road.
The work would slow the trip from Manawatu to Wellington by approximately 39 seconds, she said.
Myers also presented the committee with NZTA plans to strengthen seven bridges in the Manawatu/Whanganui region.
The work would bring the bridges up to standard to carry heavier trucks.
Among the list were the rail overpass in Longburn on SH56 and the Tokomaru River Bridge on SH57. Each project carried an estimated cost of $440,000, which would be funded by NZTA.
- Manawatu Standard
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