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Mother Nature delays Birds Hill project - but work is still on track for a summer finish

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Wet weather and cold temperatures at State Highway 60 (SH60) at Birds Hill in Golden Bay mean that the NZ Transport Agency has stopped construction for the next couple of months. However, the NZTA says that the delay won’t affect this section of SH60 being ready for summer.

Work will ramp up again in October, when the weather will be more favourable and reliable. The Transport Agency will work with the contractor to ensure that the road will be back to two lanes in time for the summer season.

Regional Performance Manager Mark Owen says that while it’s important to get both lanes open again as soon as possible, it’s equally important to build a safer road that’s specially designed to withstand the future brunt of adverse weather. Mr Owens says that this is also a great opportunity to make some other key safety improvements by straightening the road and widening the shoulders.

“After its dramatic collapse in the December 2011 storms, the Transport Agency did a huge amount of work to ensure a permanent, long term fix for this vulnerable hillside. We must make sure that this stretch of SH60 is structurally sound and can stand up to future subsidence.

“We’re also taking this chance to make this stretch of the state highway safer for everyone who uses it. By purchasing some of the land next to the road, we’ll be able to straighten it out and make the shoulders much wider. This is especially important for cyclists, who will have much more road space to ride on.

“It’s a shame that Mother Nature hasn’t cooperated with us over the past few months, but we are champing at the bit to get stuck in again. Come October, we’ll be able to crack on and get this job finished in time for summer holidays.”

Along with restoring the road back to two lanes and making these key safety improvements, work at Birds Hill includes the construction of a reinforced soil slope and drainage upgrades to protect the hillside from future slips. The Transport Agency will also install guardrails to help keep motorists safe.

Mr Owen says that the Transport Agency is very grateful for the Golden Bay community, Tasman District Council and the local land owner’s support for this project.

“We know that everyone who uses this transport lifeline in and out of Golden Bay is keen for us to fix it permanently—and we’re equally keen to get it done. On behalf of the Transport Agency, I would like to thank local residents and all motorists on this road for their patience and understanding while we do this important work.”

SH60 at Birds Hill will remain in a single lane layout until construction is finished.

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