The start of the month of October signals the traditional commencement of the construction season in the roading industry, however due to the scale of work required this summer, crews have been hitting the roads earlier than usual.
In total over 2500 lane kilometres of road will be rebuilt or resealed over the coming 6-7 months, however this is only part of the overall picture, explains Jacqui Hori-Hoult, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Acting National Manager, Maintenance & Operations.
“This summer will see an unprecedented level of activity on the state highway network across the motu. As well as the significant renewal programme, which is about 20% larger than last summer’s, we have recovery work across the upper North Island, safety related programmes and our larger infrastructure projects.
“For road users this means that you will likely experience roadworks at some stage this summer, particularly if you are driving long distances during the peak of summer. Unfortunately, we can only build new roads during the warmer, drier months of the year, so we will be working hard at the same time as people are holidaying.”
Every region has a full programme of work this summer, though particular focus is on the centre of the North Island, due to the impact of several weather events leading to ongoing recovery works, and the associated pause of renewal programmes in January and February this year.
“We continue to see the impact of weather events on the state highway network,” notes Ms Hori-Hoult.
“Most recently, we have experienced significant rainfall and land movement on State Highway 6 in the Haast Pass area. Once again, our crews responded superbly and re-opened access as quickly as possible.”
With such a busy summer ahead, Ms Hori-Hoult has a number of tips for road users, particularly those who have long journeys ahead of them.
“People are going to see some significant delays on their key routes and the best tool for understanding how this impacts any journey is the Waka Kotahi Journey Planner. This shows all known worksite or hazards affecting access on the network and can help with choosing the best route to your destination.
“When travelling long distances it pays to plan ahead and be prepared. Take a bottle or two of water along with some snacks, and take regular breaks to ensure you are feeling fresh and able to concentrate when on the road.
“Whenever you come up to a worksite, remember that our road workers are someone’s whanau or friend, and are doing their best to complete their work and keep you moving at the same time – please be respectful and follow any instructions from road workers.”
Key holiday periods will be kept as free as possible from roadworks, with contractors downing tools around lunchtime the day before a public holiday, picking them back up the morning after the holiday period ends, to help ease the pressure on peak travel periods.
Most of the renewal programme is expected to be complete by late-March 2024. However, some crews will continue into the autumn months, particularly those completing asphalt works.