Prebensen Drive Four Laning
Planning Started: 2004
Construction Started: March 2015
Completed: December 2015
Napier City Council has completed the $6 million capacity and safety improvement project for the heavily trafficked section of Prebensen Drive between the Hawke’s Bay Expressway and Hyderabad Road. The road has been upgraded to four lanes and includes a three metre wide shared pathway on the southern side.
A major feature of the upgrade is the removal of right turn movements in and out of Austin Street intersection. This intersection is now left-in, left-out with much of the Onekawa traffic entering and leaving using Ford Road via the roundabout at Severn Street.
Prebensen Drive (originally Tamatea Drive) was constructed in 1990, largely to relieve the pressure on Taradale Road. When the northern extension of the Expressway was constructed in 2002 Prebensen Drive became the main connection to the Napier Port, the Pandora and Onekawa industrial areas as well as retaining its original role of providing access to the western parts of the city (especially when the link to Church Road was opened in 2005).
When the Hawke's Bay Regional Traffic Study got under way in 2004 the upgrading of Prebensen Drive and the associated extension of Ford Road were identified as high priorities. At the regional level they are part of a package of projects including the new Whakatu link road and the Pakowhai interchange that all intended to maximise the use of the Expressway by trucks transporting freight between the main centres of production and the port.
The project was planned to be co-funded by Napier City Council (NCC) and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), the latter by using some of the remaining regional (R) funding provided by the previous government. The remaining R funds have now been assigned to the Whakatu Link project so NCC decided to fund the Ford Road Extension and the Prebensen Drive four laning projects itself. The NCC considered it to be unacceptable to leave this part of the road network in its current form.
The Prebensen Drive and Ford Road projects together produce numerous benefits including:
- Improved access to the Port of Napier from the Hawke’s Bay Expressway, especially from the south.
- A viable alternative route for heavy vehicles currently using Marine Parade and Georges Drive to get to the Port.
- Relieving the unsatisfactory Austin Street intersection.
- Removing the uncontrolled railway crossing near Austin Street (Kiwi Rail agreed to close it when the road is four-laned).
- Reducing peak hour traffic congestion.
- An off-road pedestrian and cycling route to the city.
Unfortunately the Phoenix palms planted when the road was built in 1990, had to be removed to make space for the additional road width and the new pathway.