The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has amended its Saturday work schedule on SH29 at Ruahihi Bluffs this weekend to ensure the road will reopen at 3.00pm, to minimise disruption to supporters trying to get to the All Blacks rugby match in Hamilton or the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic netball game in Tauranga.
Safety maintenance work is being carried out during both days this weekend on a section of SH29 at Ruahihi Bluffs (approximately 17km west of Tauranga over the Kaimais). The work is essential to remove potentially hazardous rocks and trees above the road.
Originally it was planned to reopen the road each day at 5.00 pm, however the NZTA has adjusted Saturday's reopening time to 3.00 pm minimise disruption to sports fans. Acting Bay of Plenty state highways manager, Andrew Scott, says the NZTA is keen to do all it can to ensure sports fans get to their games on time while also allowing the urgent safety work to go ahead.
"We are aware that on Saturday, many people from the Bay will want to travel to the All Blacks game in Hamilton. Equally, people from the Waikato will also want to travel to Tauranga for the Magic's game on the same day," says Mr Scott. "That's why we're keen to ensure fans know about the closure and allow extra time for their journey so they can use the alternative routes if they want to arrive early."
"Adjusting Saturday's reopening time to 3.00pm also gives people another travel option to choose from and we are confident this adjustment will mean they can get to their destination from either side of the Kaimais in good time for the start of the games."
Mr Scott says the timing of the safety works has been carefully considered in relation to traffic volumes, which are considerably higher during the weekdays - and events are also taken into consideration. "However, unfortunately on a high use highway like this, there's never an ideal time to carry out maintenance work - and from a safety perspective, we need to get this work done sooner rather than later."
The weekend daytime closures are Saturday 7.30 am - 3.00 pm and Sunday 7.30 am - 5.00 pm. There are also intermittent closures of an hour each on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week at 10, noon and 2 o'clock to finish off the works, which have been timed away from the start and end of the school day.
The NZTA has gone to considerable effort to inform as many people as possible about the closures says Mr Scott. "We've contacted radio, TV, newspapers and other media. We've placed notices in several of these outlets plus provided details to information centres around the region. Freight and bus companies and other key users of SH29 have also been notified directly."
Variable Message Boards have been set up along all key access points to SH29 to provide motorists in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato with advance warning of the road works and to provide direction to the alternative routes and the detour route, says Mr Scott.
Mr Scott says the alternative route for people travelling between Tauranga and Auckland - or Tauranga and the upper Waikato - is SH2. "For those travelling between Tauranga and the lower Waikato, there is SH36 south towards Rotorua, which connects with SH5 back up to the Waikato."
A detour route will also be in place and traffic controllers will divert traffic via Poripori Road through to Crawford Road, Wairoa Road and back onto SH2. "We will do our best to keep delays to minimum," says Mr Scott.
"However, if the majority of motorists can plan to use the alternative routes available as well, that would be a great in helping to avoid overloading on the Poripori Road detour, which is not suitable for large volumes of traffic."
Motorists wanting to find out more about the alternative routes and detour should go to the NZTA's website at www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic(external link) or call the freephone 0800 4HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49).