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‘Know before you go’ on the West Coast’s highways

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West Coast drivers are being reminded on ways to ‘Know before you go’ to avoid travel delays and disruption as the annual road maintenance season gets underway slightly later than usual on the West Coast.

“The wetter than usual summer has delayed some summer road maintenance work on the West Coast, but people can expect to see more road crews over the next two months,” says NZ Transport Agency Journey Manager Lee Wright.

“Predictions are that March is going to be warm and dry. Our contractors will be out in force making the most of this weather which ensures that new seal can set properly.

“People will encounter speed restrictions and other traffic management at roadwork sites. We encourage drivers to get in the habit of checking out what is happening on their route and planning their journey beforehand.”

Travellers can get information on state highway roadworks, delays and detours on the traffic and travel section of the Transport Agency’s website(external link), by calling 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 444 449) or following the Transport Agency on Facebook or Twitter.

Ms Wright says the Transport Agency and its contractors are committed to getting the work done with as little disruption as possible. “Planning ahead and knowing what is happening on the roads means you can consider taking another route or factor in any disruptions so you arrive relaxed and on time.”

Drivers are reminded to slow down through road works. “We want motorists and our road crews to get home safely,” she says. “With more visiting drivers on the roads, we ask everyone to be patient and understanding.

“Everyone has a role to play in reducing the harm that happens on our roads - be patient, stick to the temporary speed restrictions. They are there for everyone’s protection and to limit damage to the sites our crews are working on.”

West Coast roadwork sites which may cause delays:

The Transport Agency has resealing sites, pavement and bridge repairs at various locations on the West Coast state highway roading network, ongoing for the next two months.

  • Big Wainihinihi River Bridge deck on SH73 will be undergoing necessary replacement and refurbishing works. This work will result in some night time closures and delays, which are scheduled to start late March.
  • Greymouth to Hokitika, SH6, highway pavement repairs.
  • Meybille Bay, SH6, north of Punakaiki, scaling and road repair - delayed until after tourist season ie April onwards, one lane continues through this part of SH6.
  • Shines Hill realignment, near Charleston, SH: Under construction now.
  • Taramakau new bridge construction, SH 6: relatively low impact on traffic this season however at some point the deck of the existing bridge will need resealing.
  • Reseals Coast-wide – so please be prepared to see road crews in many places.

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

Transport Agency safety work easing a curve, flattening out a highway and installing a safety guardrail near Charleston, SH6, Shines Hill, currently underway:

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

Frequency asked questions

Why do you carry out roadworks 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, 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 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.

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