The $202m investment earmarked in the 2021–24 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) for Te Tai o Poutini – West Coast, of which $60m is allocated to state highways, will be targeted at maintaining critical connections with the remainder of the South Island, improving preparedness on responding to extreme weather events, maintaining access to existing tourist locations and improving safety across the road and rail network. This also includes speed and infrastructure projects.
A detailed business case for the replacement of Stoney Creek Bridge on SH7 south of Reefton has been completed and is undergoing internal review. This continues planning for replacement of single-lane bridges on the region’s network and follows the replacement of the single-lane wooden Ahaura River Bridge with a new two-lane bridge. The next step will be securing funding for the design stages.
We can take for granted that transport provides people the means to get around – to employment, community resources, medical care and recreational activities.
Topography, dispersed communities and population levels means public transport services are a challenge for the West Coast.
Waka Kotahi contributes $567,000 to the West Coast region to provide transport assistance to help people with impairments to get out and about in their communities.
The Total Mobility scheme in the West Coast region operates in Westport, Greymouth and Hokitika and provides financial assistance by way of a voucher that allows registered users of the scheme to a 50% discount up to a maximum fare of $30. This includes taking people to medical appointments or to the supermarket and saves people up to half of the cost of a normal fare.
Low profile ‘business as usual’ maintenance work is essential to maintaining a functional state highway. It is critical for West Coast transport connections and lifelines. Waka Kotahi is investing $60m in an ongoing programme comprising chip sealing, draining, vegetation clearance, potholes, right down to cleaning road signs to ensure they are visible for people travelling the highway.
We are continually investigating opportunities for resilience projects across the network. This is a continually evolving improvement process to ensure on-going examination and identification of any vulnerable points in the transport network. West Coast links are critical and we’re working towards improving resilience across several sites across the West Coast – including Gates of Haast, Meybille Bay on the Coast Road, Whataroa Bridge and various other river protection sites.
Severe weather is part of life on the West Coast.
In the past 12 months there have been six emergency works funding applications to cover events causing damage at various locations throughout the network, including in the Buller Gorge, South Westland, Reefton and Barrytown. These storms caused varying levels of road damage from one end of the West Coast to the other, mainly due to slips and landslides
In July 2021, a severe weather event caused flooding and extensive damage across the West Coast, Tasman and Marlborough.
The state highway was significantly damaged in the Buller Gorge and several other locations, requiring around $10m in repairs. The contractor team worked hard and fast, and with minimal disruption to the network to ensure repairs were completed by Christmas.
Subsequently, a second flooding event hit the Coast the following February in 2022, when heavy rain again forced Westport residents from their homes. Waka Kotahi worked with the West Coast community and agencies in a coordinated response effort.
Highway repairs undertaken in July the previous year performed well with the result being the impact on the roading network was relatively minor. This was not down to luck but earlier repair work being done well and to a high standard.
Through the Buller Gorge, we are looking to install guardrail at around 30 sites where there are steep roadside drop-offs.
In the past 12 months feasibility work has been completed on safety improvements along State Highway 6 from Charleston through to Inangahua. This length of highway was identified as an area where safety improvements could make a big difference in reducing the risk of people being killed or seriously injured in crashes. As well as installing significantly more guardrail, the project is expected to comprise a $21.87m mix of other safety improvements such as enhanced road signs and lines – improved centre and edge lines as well as rumble strip centrelines.
These safety treatments work together to enhance the highway road environment to warn drivers and help to prevent crashes. The next 12 months will see project design and consenting progressed as well as work starting on items that don’t require consent (subject to funding). Construction is expected to be in stages and subject to funding approval, work is likely to start in the first part of 2023.
Waka Kotahi reviews speed limits where a big difference could be made in preventing deaths and serious injuries to people in crashes, and where communities are calling for change*.
Waka Kotahi has investigated speed limits and safety on State Highway 7 from Maruia Springs to Reefton – including the towns of Blacks Point and Reefton – where speed is a concern for some residents. Our usual process is to investigate an entire length of corridor which provides multiple opportunities for improving safety. This makes sense in terms of wise use of resources and gaining the most value for communities. Feedback on speed limits and safety was sought from the community in November 2021. We asked for people’s views on current highway speed limits along the Maruia Springs to Reefton corridor, where people think safety could be improved. This feedback is currently being assessed and considered by the team alongside technical information to determine the next appropriate steps.
* The new Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed limits 2022, came into force May 2022 and strongly encourages regional collaboration to develop a whole-of-network plan for making our roads safer.
Maintenance activity undertaken during 2021/22:
Planned maintenance for 2022/23:
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is seeking feedback on its speed management plan for state highways. Submissions close at 5pm on Monday 12 December 2022.