The NZ Transport Agency is advising that there will be restrictions on overdimension vehicles and some truck configurations on the Rimutaka Hill Road, State Highway 2, while two significant construction projects are underway.
The first project is the construction of a reinforced concrete half bridge and the installation of a new safety barrier on a curve located on the Featherston side of the hill, approximately 3.5km north of the summit. The second project will widen one of the narrowest corners on the road, by removing rock and soil from the hillside and repositioning a new guardrail.
Loads wider than 2.8 metres and 'quad/quad truck and semi-trailer’ units will not be able to get through the work sites due to constraints associated with the construction works.
Trials on the road have shown that neither of these units will be able to travel over the Rimutaka Hill Road from Sunday 10 September until Labour Weekend. Following the completion of the half bridge and barrier project, freight operators will have a two week window when they can move houses and loads wider than 2.8 metres, before the corner easing project starts. The same restrictions will then apply for the four weeks that the second project is expected to take to complete. Both projects are weather dependent.
During the first project contractors will be excavating one lane to build a reinforced concrete half bridge, and installing a new safety barrier on a curve on the Featherston side of the Hill, about 3.5km below the summit.
The work requires the closure of the northbound downhill lane, with temporary concrete barriers along the work site to ensure road users are kept away from the open excavation site, so motorists and workers are protected.
Earlier this week enabling works were done to achieve extra road width by filling an adjacent side drain with asphalt, and physical truck tracking tests were carried out in association with the Heavy Haulage Association.
"This is one of two critical improvement projects for the Rimutaka Hill Road and we thank everyone in advance for their patience and understanding for the delays to their journeys while this work is completed," says Mark Owen, Wellington Transport Systems Manager. "It really is a matter of short term pain for long term gain."
Electronic signage will be placed on either side of the Hill, as well as by Woodville, to communicate the work and load restrictions for freight. Restricted trucks can then travel via the Saddle Road (in the Manawatu) and down State Highway 1.
"We appreciate that this is frustrating for transport companies which need to transport loads on trucks wider than 2.8m or use 'quad-quad' units, but the topography and alignment of the road means that these units simply cannot navigate around the work site," says Road Transport Association Area Executive Sandy Walker. "We've advocated for this work for a long time and all freight operators will benefit once the work is done."
The Heavy Haulage Association’s Chief Executive Jonathan Bhana-Thomson says transporters with over-dimension loads such as large machinery or houses simply won't be able to use this route during the project. "We've worked closely with the project team and our members to understand the implications of the work. It will have an impact on some operators but in between the end of this project and the start of the corner easing project after Labour Weekend, we will be able to have a window of time for over dimension loads to use the Hill."
Throughout the duration of the project, traffic will be down to one lane and access will be controlled by traffic lights.
A weekly update on the project will be available on the project webpage (external link)
There is also an email for any questions about the project