AFTER months of work, the intersection of State Highway 2 and Woodlands Road is now safer for foot traffic and drivers alike.

A new underpass travels beneath the Waioeka Bridge, freshly concreted and ready for use.

The surrounding farmland has been fenced off and supports put in place to prevent dirt and debris slipping on to areas of the underpass.

The path runs from the layby area on the left when entering Opotiki, to the intersection of the highway and Woodlands Road.

This upgrade came thanks to the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), following community concerns for backpackers, cyclists and students crossing the busy intersection.

A school bus drops students off in the layby area approaching the bridge; they previously had to make their own way across the highway.

Also of concern was the nearby backpacker hostel and increased cycle traffic to come with the Motu Trail Opotiki-to-Whakatane extension.

“It is an incredibly busy intersection for local traffic, logging trucks and a major freight route so it is a priority area for our pedestrian safety improvements,” NZTA Bay of Plenty system manager Rob Campbell said.

“The shared underpass means pedestrians and cyclists will no longer have to cross the busy state highway.”

He said the work was a part of NZTA’s focus on improving safety and reducing death or injury on roads around New Zealand, while also encouraging walking and cycling.

Mr Campbell projected the work to be finished by Easter.

“We ask that motorists continue to take care around that area as pedestrians continue to cross and contractors are around the roadside.”

james.sandbrook@opotikinews.co.nz