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Traffic lights signal a West Coast first

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The West Coast will soon have what is believed to be its first sets of permanent traffic signals, but they are not being installed where most people might expect.

The West Coast will soon have what is believed to be its first sets of permanent traffic signals, but they are not being installed where most people might expect.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) says the signals will be situated at two locations through the Upper and Lower Buller Gorge; Iron Bridge and Fern Arch respectively. The signals are part of a project to improve road safety at these unique locations which have high accidents rates due to the poor visibility of oncoming vehicles at each site.

NZTA Regional Highways Manager Colin Knaggs says work directly associated with the Fern Arch signal installation needs to be carried out between Monday 23 March and Friday 27 March between 7pm and 7am to minimise disruption to road users. The closures will be at 30 minute intervals from 7pm to 10pm, and for 60 minute intervals from 10pm to 7pm. The road will reopen to clear any traffic backlog on the half hour or hour as appropriate.

A key factor in deciding to do the work overnight is the narrow width of the highway in two areas where the lights will be installed. This restricted carriageway limits the amount of work that can be done safely and effectively. We have therefore chosen to minimise the effect by working through the night when traffic flows are at their lowest. While this job is being carried out the highway will be opened on the hour, and on the half hour between the hours of 7pm to 10pm. The road will be opened to clear all waiting traffic at such times.

Commercial transport operators and emergency services will be made aware of the closures.

The traffic signals are expected to be fully operational by the end of April. 

Mr Knaggs says once installed the traffic signals should have a little impact on travel times as they will use vehicle detecting sensors. These allow the signals to switch to green if there are no vehicles approaching from the other direction. There is a push button system on the traffic signals to cater for cyclists. Solar energy will power the traffic signals. A major effort has been made to minimise the environmental impact of the signals on the surrounding national park.

For more information please contact:

Bob Nettleton
Regional Communications Advisor
  DDI 03 951 3005   
M  021 954 928   
  03 964 2855
E-mail   bob.nettleton@nzta.govt.nz

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