The SH2 Watchman Road intersection in Napier was once one of the country’s highest risk intersections, but this has changed with a transformational project jointly funded by Waka Kotahi, Hawke’s Bay Airport and Napier City Council. We were instrumental in designing and delivering the project, which involved the construction of a roundabout at the intersection, the widening and strengthening of Watchman Road and the construction of a new road from Hawke’s Bay Airport to link to Watchman Road.
CLIENT BRIEF/PROJECT CHALLENGES
This project had three clients sharing ownership, with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency as project manager. Waka Kotahi formed a design consortium that included us, and was later joined by a contractor. Prior to the construction of the Kuaka Gateway, the previous intersection was in the top 10 high-risk rural intersections in New Zealand. The previous intersection consisted of a Tintersection with a flush median and right turn bay.
An infamous track record of fatalities and serious injuries, coupled with growing concern amongst locals, created an urgent need to find a solution. Given the Watchman Road corridor is nestled next to a wetland of international ecological significance (Ahuriri Estuary and Westshore Wildlife Reserve), the priority was to urgently improve safety while ensuring minimal impact on the environment.
We fostered a collaborative environment focusing on the clients’ priorities and community engagement, achieved through careful consultation with key stakeholders. This group included Napier City Council, Hawke’s Bay Airport, Waka Kotahi, ornithologists, environmental experts, local iwi, artists and residents. Assessment of project requirements revealed the need to leverage expertise of our teams across New Zealand. Extensive collaboration with our national network ensured we could deliver the best outcome for the client and wider community.
Assessment of the site and consultation with key stakeholders ensured the right measures were implemented in line with the clients’ and the community’s desire to minimise the project’s footprint.
Environmental impacts were offset throughout multiple stages of the construction process. Construction had to be integrated with breeding and nesting patterns of multiple bird species from the estuary to ensure minimal disruption. With aid from wildlife and environmental specialists, affected wildlife areas were thoroughly explored, resulting in nests and significant plants being relocated to safety.
Shallow ponds were created and extended to provide the birds with refuge away from the new roadway. A collaborative effort between our designers alongside a renowned local Māori artist resulted in a design that honoured ecology, history and the aspirations of the people of the region.
The project has won numerous awards and been recognised for its ambitious visionary leadership for weaving amenity, recreation, ecological, cultural heritage, aesthetic, urban gateway and economic outcomes into an intersection traffic safety project. The project is expected to reduce fatal and serious crashes by 90% at this intersection. (Between 2003 – 2012 there were eight deaths and serious injuries).