‘Know before you go’ and avoid road work queues this summer


‘Know before you go’ to avoid travel delays and disruption is the message from the NZ Transport Agency, as the annual road maintenance season gets underway across Canterbury.

Contractors will be out in force over the next few months, making the most of the summer weather to ensure roads are well maintained and safe for driving all year round.  “People will encounter speed restrictions and other traffic management at roadwork sites and are urged to get in the habit of checking out what is happening on their route and planning their journey,” says Transport Agency Journey Manager Lee Wright.

Summer is the best time for this work, says Ms Wright. “Summertime means more daylight hours for our contractors to work in, warm, dry weather which lets new seal set properly.

“The cold winter ground would make the new surface harden and crack and we’d just have to do it all over again next year. This would cause drivers even more inconvenience. While we know that road works can be dusty, noisy and generally a bit of a pain, drivers will have a better, safer road once this work is done.”

Ms Wright says the Transport Agency and its contractors are committed to getting the work done with as little disruption as possible however there will be delays at times.

“Planning ahead and knowing what is happening on the roads means you can consider taking another route (if possible) or factor in any disruptions so you arrive at your destination on time,” she says.

With more crews out on the roads over the coming months, drivers are reminded to slow down through road works.  “We want motorists and our road crews to get home safely,” she says.

“Everyone has a role to play in reducing the harm that happens on our roads, so we’re asking people to be patient and observe temporary speed restrictions. These are in place to protect the safety of the road workers and to limit damage to the sites our crews are working on.”

Canterbury road work sites which may cause delays are detailed below:

The Transport Agency has resealing sites, pavement and bridge repairs at various locations on the Canterbury State Highway roading network which are ongoing for the summer months.

Banks Peninsula

On SH75 near Millers Road on the Akaroa side of the Blue Duck Café, Motukarara, the Transport Agency is undertaking repairs and resurfacing of the road. People need to expect some delays at this site as the current pavement is at the end of its life and requires rehabilitation and repair before winter. Work has started.

Highway to Arthur’s Pass, SH73

On SH73 just west of Castle Hill Village – Enys* Straight, the Transport Agency will be repairing and resurfacing the road. There will be delays, as the current pavement is at the end of its life and requires rehabilitation and repair. Work has started.

North Canterbury

In North Canterbury, the Transport Agency is undertaking repairs and resurfacing on four sites along SH7 from mid-February to mid-April, west of the Hanmer Springs intersection to Lewis Pass.

The Transport Agency thanks drivers for their patience and understanding while these essential works are carried out.

South Canterbury

Read our media release(external link) from a week ago.

Ways to find out what is happening on the highway network:


* Origin of the name Enys Straight: http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/2e10/enys-john-davies(external link)

Frequently asked questions

Why do you carry out road works over summer?

The bulk of maintenance works and repairs on the roads is done over the summer months. Winter takes its toll on the road surface. Pot holes, cracked and slippery roads that have lost their skid resistance can increase the risk of crashes and injuries.

Summer is the best time to reseal roads as warm temperatures and dry air help the new seal stick to the road surface. Cold winter ground would make the new surface harden and crack and not last. This would cause drivers even more inconvenience.

Chip sealing the highways helps improve safety by improving the surface grip and therefore reducing the distance it takes to stop when braking in an emergency.  It also extends the life of the road. While we know that road works can be dusty and noisy, drivers will have a better, safer road once this work is done.

Why do you have speed limits in place through roadwork sites?

Speed restrictions help protect the workers, prevent windscreen breakage from loose chips, and reduce the chances of drivers losing control on an unfinished or damaged road surface.

They also help to ‘settle in’ the road surface, as travelling too fast can damage new seal, resulting in additional delays if repairs have to be carried out.

Motorists who exceed the speed restrictions are breaking the law and putting road workers, themselves, and other road users at risk. Often speed restrictions remain in place for reasons that aren’t immediately obvious, for example, even when work is not happening, the speed restriction signs will remain in place for safety reasons, or to protect the new surface while it beds in after the resealing is complete. For your safety, the safety of the road crews and to prevent potential damage to your car, we ask you to slow down when you drive through a site where crews are working.

Why is the road is still closed to traffic yet no one working on the resealing?

If the road looks brown or dusty or muddy then it’s likely that we are waiting for the new seal to set before we let cars, trucks and bikes drive over it. If we didn’t do this, vehicles could churn up the newly laid road surface and we would have to carry out further repairs.

Why don’t roadwork crews work 24/7 to get the work done quicker?

Some crews do work at night where it is safe and practical to do so. But in general night work is minimised as it is more dangerous for both road users and road work crews.

In urban areas we also try not to do night works as brightly-lit road work sites and noisy machinery are intrusive on the community and keep people awake.

What do I do if I find bitumen spots on my car?

If your vehicle has bitumen spots after travelling through road work sites, the trick to removing this easily without damaging your paint job is to wipe it off with kerosene or baby oil.