The Golden Bay community can once again enjoy the benefits of two lanes of State Highway 60 to get around more easily over summer and bring tourists into their region these holidays.
The NZ Transport Agency today completed the restoration of Bird’s Hill to a fully operational two lane highway, just in time for Christmas.
Crews were out today painting the road markings, one of the final tasks in a complex geotechnical operation that has seen the hillside stabilised and rebuilt following the monster storm in 2011 that washed away the road.
“We’re just so pleased to have the road back open to full capacity before Christmas. That’s what we promised the Golden Bay community, and the workers have gone at it all guns blazing to make sure they delivered," says acting highways manager Nelson/Tasman Mark Owen.
“The Golden Bay community have been incredibly patient and supportive – they understood just how complex a job it was and that we had to take the time to plan and build a solution that would last the distance.”
“Summer is a busy time for tourism in this stunning area, and it will make travel more welcoming and easy when tourists have a clear run to Golden Bay.
“Restoring the road to two lanes will also have economic benefits by making it more efficient to move goods around.”
Mr Owen says rebuilding the road was only a small part of the job; the tricky part was stabilising the hillside.
“Long after it collapsed, there appeared to be ongoing movement in the hillside – it was practically alive. So we had to devise a solution that would prevent the hillside slipping out from underneath the road. We settled on a combination of two things – a reinforced soil slope and a realignment of the road to make it less vulnerable.”
The road was also widened to provide a safer route that is more accommodating for road users, particularly cyclists. He says the Transport Agency is aware of a desire for a dedicated cycle lane but the priority had to be restoring full access as soon as possible for the Golden Bay community.
Mr Owen says the Transport Agency thanks the community for being so understanding over the last two years, and to MWH and Fulton Hogan for their superb efforts in seeing the project through to this stage.
For real-time travel and traffic information in Tasman and Nelson these holidays, call 0800 4 Highways, visit www.nzta.govt.nz,(external link) or sign up for email alerts at www.onthemove.govt.nz(external link).