28 July 2009

Opus International Consultants (Opus) have won a Silver Award at the recent Association of Consulting Engineers of New Zealand (ACENZ) Awards for their work on the Karangahake Gorge Road Safety Improvements project.

The project was a winner at the Innovate NZ 2009 Awards of Excellence dinner that was held in Queenstown on Saturday 25th July 2009.

Opus coordinated a safety improvement study of the notorious section of State Highway 2 that winds through the Karangahake Gorge between Paeroa and Waihi to target a worrying increase in the frequency of crashes and in particular crash severity. The study, commissioned by the New Zealand Transport Agency, was one of the first to fully embrace the 3-E (Engineering, Education, Enforcement) philosophy and make use of a Crash Prediction Model (developed by Opus Central Laboratories) to assess the safety improvement potential for a stretch of highway.

A number of other innovative approaches contributed to the project’s success, including the introduction of an 80km/hr speed zone in a rural setting and a low cost option to achieve extra width for the narrowest section of road that avoided the high cost of bridging.

The recommendations were well received, and Opus was commissioned to oversee their implementation that occurred progressively over 2005 and 2006.

The success of the measures speaks for itself. Drivers report that the road through the Gorge now has a different “feel”, Police report that driver behaviour has noticeably improved and, most satisfying of all, the statistics back up these observations.

For the three years since the safety improvements were implemented the social cost of accidents has averaged $5.6m per year, compared with an annual average of $10.5m for the three years prior to implementation. The cost of the traffic engineering improvements has been $460,000.

For more information please contact:

John Bowers
Project Manager
Tel: 07 862 9619
Email: John.Bowers@opus.co.nz