Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s largest programme of state highway repairs and renewals is currently underway, which means stop/go operators are a common sight throughout Gisborne.
They’re on the roadside all day, in all weather, in their hi-visibility gear, directing the flow of traffic with a stop/go sign, a walkie talkie and a smile.
Transport Agency Regional Transport Systems Manager Oliver Postings says it can be a dangerous job.
“A few road cones and a stop/go sign aren’t enough to protect our workers from a speeding vehicle. We ask all motorists to please slow down when passing through our work sites and stick to the temporary speed limits.
“It’s always concerning to us whenever we hear that stop/go operators have been nearly being hit by vehicles passing too close or speeding through the work site.
“In one incident a few years ago, a logging truck passing through a work site at Matawai exceeded the temporary speed limit and caused a road cone to fly through the site which almost hit our stop/go operator.
“We’ve also heard from our stop/go operators that motorists ignore the ‘stop’ sign almost daily and drive through before it’s their turn.
“This sort of behaviour is unacceptable because it puts everyone at risk – not just the stop/go operator, but also road worker crew members and other road users.
“Our workers go to work each day expecting to go home safely at the end of it, just like everyone else. Safety is our top priority, but there’s only so much we can do to keep people safe – motorists must also take responsibility and consider the safety of road workers.”
Mr Postings says the point of a stop/go operation is to try to keep traffic flowing, alternating for each direction, when the state highway is reduced to one lane.
“We try to keep delays to a minimum but sometimes traffic builds up. We appreciate that this can be frustrating for motorists and our stop/go workers do their best to get people on their way as quickly as possible, but the most important thing is for everyone to get to their destination safely.
“Gisborne is a popular destination over the summer months, which is also our busiest time of year for road resurfacing and repairs as we try to take advantage of dry, warm conditions. This work is essential for the safety and resilience of our state highways, so we ask motorists to be patient and understanding.”
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