The NZ Transport Agency is urging motorists to take care and plan their journeys when driving on the State Highway 5 Napier-Taupo road this winter.
NZTA Napier state highways manager Mark Kinvig says it is important that motorists check weather and road conditions before using SH5, and to ensure they are well prepared before setting out.
"Conditions can change quickly on the Napier-Taupo road, and it’s important motorists check the weather forecast and the road conditions before embarking on their journeys"
"If conditions look dicey we urge motorists to delay their journey until things improve."
"We’re committed to doing everything we can to keep the road open for business and as safe as possible, but it’s crucial motorists drive to the conditions and take any weather warnings seriously."
Mr Kinvig says motorists should make sure they leave with a full tank of petrol, warm clothes and blankets, food, water, and a survival kit in case they get stuck.
He says the NZTA have a comprehensive road maintenance programme in place, and road crews are available 24 hours a day to respond to emergencies.
New barrier gates are being installed at Eskdale and at the Taupo end of the highway.
"These new gates will enable these roads to be closed a lot quicker in emergencies, ensuring motorists do not pass through after the electronic message signs have announced the closure of the road."
The NZTA also uses grit and anti-icing agent CMA to reduce the danger caused by snow and ice, and has access to snow ploughs at both ends of the highway.
Also improving safety on the road is the recently completed $5m Dillons Hill Realignment, which provides a straighter, easier realignment of a difficult stretch of highway 12km north of Napier.
Mr Kinvig thanks motorists for their care and patience on the Napier-Taupo road over winter, and to the road crews who work day and night to keep the road open and as safe as possible for the public.
Motorists can check road conditions at the NZTA"s Highway Info website, www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link), or by calling the NZTA’s free info line 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49).