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Lyttelton Tunnel: keeping the dirt out – loose loads need to be covered

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From Thursday 1 September 2016, truck drivers who use Lyttelton Tunnel will need to cover loose loads in an effort to reduce the amount of material polluting the tunnel.

The NZ Transport Agency’s bylaw has been through a public consultation process in recent months. 

Following the earthquakes there has been a significant increase in the amount of dirt in the tunnel.  Up to eight tonnes of dirt and dust is cleaned out of the tunnel every month, compared to 235 kg a month before 2011. “Sweeping the tunnel has gone from once a month to three times a week,” says Barry Stratton, Maintenance Contract Manager for the Transport Agency.

Trucks entering the Lyttleton Tunnel

The increased amount of dirt has led to the bylaw which makes it mandatory for all commercial trucks with loose bulk loads to be covered as they pass through the tunnel.

What the bylaw covers and does not cover

  • All commercially operated vehicles with a minimum laden weight of six tonnes are covered by the new bylaw. Trucks carrying fertiliser, construction or demolition material, waste, soil, sand, stock feed and other products which can be blown around are covered by the new bylaw.
  • Scrap metal and logs which are harder to cover easily and effectively are excluded from the bylaw. “The bylaw also does not apply to residents towing trailers although they are also encouraged to ensure their loads are secure, for the safety of other road users,” says Mr Stratton.

The Lyttelton Tunnel Control Officers will remind any truck drivers not covering their loads that they need to do so. Number plates are captured through the tunnel’s video cameras. The Port of Lyttelton, freight company stakeholders and industry groups have been kept well informed on the new bylaw and what it will mean for operators.

“We are keen for people to do the right thing,” says Mr Stratton. “Hopefully we will not need to issue enforcement notices.”

For more information on the new bylaw, read the information sheet [PDF, 462 KB] for commercial operators on line. 

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