Ferguson Street safety upgrades to make inner-ring road safer

Published on 01 September 2022

Aerial image shows the cross of two major roads with vehicles travelling.

The next stage of our city centre transformation is making it safer and easier to get around Palmy.

Our contractor Downer is making some improvements to Ferguson Street – from Pak‘nSave to the Pitt Street intersection. Construction starts in September and is expected to finish early next year.

The is a key project to making our inner-ring road safer and more efficient (consisting of Pitt/Walding/Grey/Princess/Ferguson).

Construction will start along the grass berm outside Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School and be broken into roughly five stages.

Map indicates the stages of transformation at Ferguson and Pitt streets

We’re lucky to have enough space to maintain two lanes of traffic along Ferguson Street during construction to help keep traffic flowing.

As work progresses down the street, it’s likely that two intersections will be affected for periods of construction. The intersection at Linton Street will be temporarily closed and traffic diverted. The same will happen when work is near the South Street intersection. You’ll still be able to access these two streets from College Street, just not Ferguson.

We’ll also be doing some work to the water pipes in the opening few weeks, so there will be a couple of water shutdown periods at different times. Homes and businesses affected by this will receive a letter with plenty of warning.

Transport and Development Group Manager Hamish Featonby says we’ve come up with a design that balances the views of all road users and ensures everyone gets where they need to go safely.

The transformation includes:

  • Changing the intersection at Ferguson-Pitt into a traffic-light controlled intersection.
  • Widening the road to four lanes of traffic.
  • Traffic lights for pedestrians to get across Ferguson Street at the Pak ‘n Save fuel station.
  • A wider footpath by Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School.
  • Minor changes to Linton-Ferguson intersection to prevent right turns across four lanes of traffic.

Mr Featonby says safety is the driver of these changes.

“Over the past 10 years, there have been more than 34 crashes along this stretch of road and two intersections. One was fatal and 17 caused injuries, but those only account for crashes where police were called to the scene. There are likely more crashes that were not reported.”

Chief Planning Officer David Murphy says Palmy is growing and we need people and goods to be able to move freely and safely.

“The inner-ring road (consisting of Pitt/Walding/Grey/Princess/Ferguson) has long been earmarked as Palmy’s version of a slow-speed motorway to cross from one side of Palmy to the other. Building this route has taken several phases over 50 years – through dual lanes and traffic lights.”

Mr Murphy says the ring road also connects four key roads with high volumes of traffic – Pioneer Highway, Fitzherbert Avenue, Rangitikei Street (State Highway 3) and Main Street East (SH3). 

“Our vision is for trucks to use these roads as a consistent and reliable route across the city – keeping freight off our inner-city streets, which are gradually being upgraded for pedestrians and people on bikes through our city centre transformation.”

Mr Murphy says we want the ring road to be as safe and efficient as possible, so there are no cycle lanes on the new street. Instead, our Urban Cycling Masterplan encourages people on bikes to use other nearby dedicated cycle lanes on Fitzherbert Avenue, Cook Street and College Street.  

This project is delivered as part of the Palmerston North Integrated Transport Initiative (PNITI) led by Waka Kotahi – New Zealand Transport Agency and the Council. PNITI is a 30-year plan and a package of more than 70 transport and land use initiatives to increase freight efficiency over time and make our inner city more focused on moving people around.

This focuses on improving motorist, pedestrian, public transport and cycling safety in the urban area of Palmy, while encouraging freight to take key arterial routes to bypass around city in future.

For more information, visit pncc.govt.nz/projects.