The NZ Transport Agency says road works in the Waikato are hitting high gear, after works were deferred late last year to make sure that traffic flowed smoothly during the Rugby World Cup and during the extended period of bad weather which followed afterwards.
The NZTA is making up for lost time and aiming to complete a number of road maintenance projects before winter. The work is an integral part of the NZTA's focus on Safer Journeys, which includes safer roads and roadsides as one of its four key 'safe systems' focus points (the others being safe speeds; safe vehicles; and safe road use - by drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians).
Kaye Clark, NZTA Waikato/Bay of Plenty State Highway Manager, says the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions contain over 2600km of state highway and several of these roads carry some of the highest traffic loads in the country. "Each year the NZTA carries out about 45km of road construction and around 300km of resealing in these two regions. Staying on track with our works programmes when weather conditions are good allows us to get the most effective results and the best value from our repairs and construction work. This also ensures our roads' accessibility and safety are maintained year-round for road users."
"We recognise the frustration some road users may feel if they experience traffic queues, detours or delays as a result of our activities," says Mrs Clark, who adds that the NZTA is often asked about the reasons behind the timing of its road works. "People want to know 'why we don't wait until later in the year away from peak summer holiday times?' The answer is that wet or cold conditions can decrease the durability of our repair or construction work - for example, reducing how long a resealing repair will last. People also ask us 'why don't we work overnight or on weekends instead?' From time to time we do work at night and on weekends. We usually do this where the road works are needed on roads with very high traffic volumes, as carrying out these activities during normal work hours on weekdays would cause untenable congestion and unreasonable delays."
Mrs Clark says that wherever possible, the NZTA does its best to keep delays to a minimum. "However, in some locations traffic flow through or away from the works area needs to be managed carefully to maximise the safety of road users and the work crews while work is underway. In some cases this involves 'stop' and 'go' signs to let people through in intervals; a detour being put in place; or in rare cases, a road closure."
"We'd ask that people be patient when delays do occur and remember that these works are vital to ensure our roads remain safe for them to use," says Mrs Clark. "Keep an eye out for road works around the region, take note of signage, traffic controls and plan your journey to allow for possible delays. Travel at safe speeds; drive to the conditions and watch out for driver fatigue. At sites where NZTA's contractors provide trained traffic management staff, their directions should be followed carefully to ensure the safety of road users and the road crew."
The NZTA's website is regularly updated with road works, closure and detour information at www.nzta.govt.nz(external link) and information is also available by freephone on 0800 4HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49).
Traffic bulletins of upcoming works; information on the latest highway conditions; and details on state highway works programmes are available in the 'Road and Travel' section of the NZTA's website http://www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/index.html(external link).
For your information, some of the NZTA's key road construction works currently underway in the Waikato region are listed below: