The NZ Transport Agency says new precautionary measures at roadworks sites have shown encouraging signs of reducing the risk of windscreen chips and tar damage for motorists.
NZTA regional state highways manager David McGonigal says the NZTA have worked closely with its consultant MWH, contractor Downer, and the Road Transport Association to identify measures that would reduce the chance of damage to vehicles, and early signs are very promising.
"We were really concerned to hear reports of damage at resealing sites, and while vehicles speeding through resealing sites remain our main concern, we still want to keep the risk of damage to vehicles as low as possible. Getting windscreen chips or tar splashes can be a real headache, and while the reality is that it will still happen from time to time, the steps we've taken will make it a much rarer occurrence."
'We've looked at a range of potential solutions and decided on techniques which have been trialled to great effect over the last week, and feedback has been very positive.
"The measures we've taken will also help to prevent people speeding through the sites, which will protect our contractors who are working hard on the roads to keep them safe for everyone."
Mr McGonigal says the initiatives are in place to prevent chip tracking, which is where stone chips from the new seal are uplifted from the road surface by tyres and sometimes trafficked offsite or flung at passing vehicles. Mr McGonigal says contractors are now spreading water on resealing sites, which will make tyres wet and lower their temperature, meaning they're less likely to pick up tar and chips.
Contractors are also using a pilot vehicle to ferry traffic through the sites when deemed necessary, which will help keep motorists to the speed restrictions while enabling a more consistent flow of traffic through the site.
The measures were being trialled at several different resealing sites on State Highway 3.
Mr McGonigal said that motorists speeding through roadworks sites were still a concern, and drivers were legally required to observe the speed restrictions at all times.
The measures have been greeted positively by Road Transport Association area manager Tom Cloke, who says the RTA welcomes continued discussion on issues surrounding chip tracking on resealing sites.
"We believe the initiatives that the NZTA are putting in place, such as wetting the reseal sites and the use of pilot vehicles to control speeds, will go a long way to reduce the likelihood of these past tracking issues that have caused problems with vehicle damage."
"The new procedures appear to be working well. I've travelled through these sites myself and have observed little to no chip lift or chip tracking, and reports from our industry are confirming that things are on the right track".
David McGonigal says that the NZTA plans to incorporate these measures into future resealing work, and would continue to work closely with its transport partners to monitor the measures' ongoing effectiveness. He thanked MWH, Downer and the Road Transport Association for working with the NZTA to make the improvements possible.