Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is urging motorists to plan ahead, drive with care and be aware of existing construction sites on the state highway network, with summer road works well underway throughout Gisborne and the East Coast.
This summer Waka Kotahi is working to renew 32 lane kilometres of state highway in Gisborne and the East Coast, and is on track to complete about 50 per cent of that before Christmas.
“The $3.4 million repair and resurfacing programme in part of a $127 million dollar investment in maintaining and improving state highways across the country to make them safer and more resilient,” says Senior Network and Journey Manager Helen Harris.
“Over the last few weeks, road resurfacing has been focused on SH2 north and south of Gisborne, and parts of SH35. Key areas include Te Karaka deviation, Otoko Hill and Waitaukakari, north of Hicks Bay. We’re aiming to have this work completed by Christmas, then will focus on resurfacing work on SH35 north of Gisborne in the new year.
“October through to March is our peak maintenance period. The spring and summer months are the best time for resurfacing as daylight hours are longer and the warm, dry air helps new seal stick to the road surface. It’s also the best time for a lot of the earthworks on our major projects.”
Most Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency work sites will close from 23 December 2020 to 4 January 2021 to leave the roads clear for holiday traffic, but there will still be temporary speed limits and road cones at the work sites or where there has been recent road resurfacing.
“Traffic management, such as temporary speed limits, signs and cones, is used to alert road users to a change in the road or to work sites ahead, and helps to ensure the safety of our road workers. Although many of the sites will be closed over the holiday period, traffic management will remain in place,” Ms Harris says.
“Because of the rain event that our region experienced in July, anyone traveling through SH35 will still experience significant disruption as we work to repair damage to the road surface. We still have priority give ways and unsealed sections of the state highway from Tikitiki to Tolaga Bay.
“Motorists should be patient and don’t try to overtake while crews set up and take down signs and cones. Traffic management is in place for the safety of road users and road workers. When motorists disregard the traffic management, they put everyone’s safety at risk.
“Speeding vehicles can flick up loose metal and other objects which are a danger to road workers and other road users. Motorists also have less control at higher speeds and may clip road cones and send them flying at our road workers or oncoming traffic, or lose control completely.
“Motorists should put themselves in the boots of our road workers and understand the real danger that bad driving behaviour can create, not just for our workers, but for themselves and other road users. Road workers are someone’s husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, brother or sister. They go to work, do long hours, and expect to go home safely at the end of the day.
“Congestion and delays are inevitable at peak times, so people should factor this into their plans. Trying to ‘make up lost time’ by speeding and unsafe overtaking puts everyone on the road at risk. Even when it isn’t the direct cause, speed is often the difference between someone walking away unharmed or being seriously injured or killed. For everyone’s safety, please slow down.
“With the increase in traffic, it’s also important to remind farmers to check their fencing and ensure stock are safely secured in their paddocks. We’ve had far too many incidents of animals wandering onto the state highway over the past few months and this presents a major safety risk for motorists.”
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