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Roadworks kick off to make Wellington highways safer

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It might sound like a bit of a stretch, but it could be argued that traffic cones are to summer as daffodils are to spring.

The NZ Transport Agency is advising Wellington motorists that with warmer, dryer weather arriving, the Wellington region’s biggest roadworks season ever is swinging into gear as crews swoop in to make our highways safe and progress major projects. 

Regional performance manager Mark Owen says Wellington drivers are likely to encounter roadwork sites on the state highway network over the next few months, and should leave time up their sleeve for potential delays.  All major highways throughout the region will see work underway to keep them in good nick, and drivers should make a habit of allowing extra time for journeys.

Mr Owen says the Transport Agency are grateful to motorists for their patience and understanding at roadworks sites.

'We know roadworks can be a bit of a headache for motorists, but resealing the roads keep motorists and their passengers safe on our highways. Pot holes, cracked roads and roads that have come to the end of their natural life have reduced skid resistance, and this can increase the risk of crashes and injuries,' said Mr Owen.

'Roadworks make a massive difference to the safety of our roads.'

 He says regularly resurfacing the roads also prevents expensive long-term repairs.

 'Maintaining the roads is like repainting your house to give it a protective seal from wear and tear and exposure to weather, as well as increase its durability,' says Mr Owen.

 Mr Owen says traffic management including some speed restrictions will be in place from time to time, so motorists should plan ahead and leave extra time for their journeys.

 While many of the roadworks sites will be routine resealing and repair sites, work will also continue on major construction projects. Summer is an ideal time to do this work, particularly January, as the roads are much quieter while locals are out of town enjoying their summer break.

 Mr Owen says crews will be taking advantage of the quiet January period to start work improving the SH1 Raumati Straights. This major upgrade will improve the bumpy section of highway between Mackays Crossing and Raumati to ensure a safe, seamless, high-quality connection between the Kapiti Expressway and Transmission Gully.   Mr Owen says starting the pavement work in January will enable the work to kick off with minimal disruption, as motorists will be able to gradually get used to road changes at a time that the highway is less busy.

 Preparatory work to get the road ready for the upgrade will begin later in November. More information will be released as the plans for the work are finalised.

 Mr Owen says it is crucial that motorists observe the speed restrictions at all times at roadworks sites

 'The speed restrictions are there to protect both drivers and the road workers, so please stick to them no matter what - if it says 30 km/h, then that's the speed limit. Speed restrictions also help to prevent windscreen damage, which tends to arise from people driving too  fast through roadworks sites and flicking up loose chips into other vehicles.'

'Even if there is no work happening onsite, we ask that people keep their speeds down to let the new surface cure - otherwise it can get ripped up and we'll need to start all over again.'

 Mr Owen says summer is the best time to reseal roads, as the warm temperatures and dry air helps the new seal to stick to the existing road surface.

 'If we did the work in winter, the cold ground would mean the new surface would harden and crack, plus the stones in the chip seal could pop out if exposed to cold weather within four weeks of application, and we’d just have to do the work all over again next year – causing you more inconvenience.'

People can get online and check www.nzta.govt.nz/summerjourneys(external link) for up to date information on road works and detours in the region they’re in, or travelling to. They can also find out by calling 0800 444 449 (0800 4 HIGHWAYS) or following us on Facebook or Twitter.

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