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Commuters and other road users will welcome a road-safety project that aims to make travelling SH1 from Ashley to Belfast safer, Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey says.

Government on Thursday announced a $600 million road-safety package which aims to bring down the national road toll. Project investigation by the Safe Roads Alliance for SH1 from Ashley to Belfast is expected to start late 2016/early 2017, and construction could start late 2017, Doocey said.

“Ninety high-risk sites on rural state highways around the country have been targeted,” Doocey said. “Statistics show eight out of 10 fatal and serious injury crashes on state highways occur on rural roads.

“It’s great news that SH1 from Ashley to Belfast has been included in these projects. We are seeing an increase of commuters on our roads. Waimakariri electorate is the third-fastest growing electorate in the country and we know many of those living in the electorate are commuting daily to work and back. Anything that can be done to make them safer is welcomed.”

Doocey said while details of the improvements to be carried out on SH1 from Ashley to Belfast had yet to be determined, they would likely include  a combination of improvements such as roadside and median barriers, curve reduction, rumble strips, widened centrelines, improved signage and road markings, shoulder widening and intersection improvements.

“All of these improvements have been proven to reduce the risk of head-on and run off-road crashes,” Doocey said.

In Easter, the MP launched his Drive Fresh road-safety campaign and put up12 signs around the electorate to remind motorists to take planned breaks. Road safety was a top priority, Doocey said.

“It’s not only about speed. There are a number of factors involved in our accident statistics. In my Easter campaign I focused on driver fatigue and worked closely with local council and the New Zealand Transport Agency to get my message across.”

Costs for the project would be confirmed once investigation and design were completed, Doocey said.

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