NZTA rapid response teams get traffic flowing


Motorists in the Wellington region can drive easy knowing help will be quickly at hand in the event of a breakdown, crash or incident that impacts traffic flows.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and Capital Journeys, the Transport Agency’s maintenance contractor, have launched a new traffic incident response vehicle. This is a rapid response service to manage traffic, shift damaged vehicles quickly and clean up after incidents on the state highway network.

The new vehicle and its two operators are dedicated solely to the task of incident response. The vehicle is stationed on the highway ready to go at a moment’s notice, either waiting at the bottom of Ngauranga Gorge or patrolling the state highway network.

The new rapid response service enhances the existing traffic incident response service already operated by Capital Journeys that looks after the state highways in the greater Wellington region as far as south Levin on State Highway 1 and Mt Bruce on State Highway 2.

The Transport Agency’s Regional Transport Systems Manager Mark Owen says the new service got off to a busy start by attending 160 callouts in September.

“These included 70 callouts during peak commuter hours, a time when any incident causes long delays. Incidents included 17 vehicle accidents, 70 breakdowns and 31 hazards, such as rocks and boxes on the road. Other callouts included abandoned vehicles and flooding.

“The aim of the new rapid response service is to clear the highway and get traffic moving as soon as possible so road users can arrive safely at their destinations without lengthy delays.”

The new service is operating 16 hours a day, from 6am until 10pm, and carries the equipment to deal with many of the common causes of traffic snarl-ups, such as moving breakdowns off the road and mopping up spills.

This frees up other incident responders like Police and Fire and Emergency New Zealand to focus on their core tasks.

The service has huge value in emergencies, arriving on site quickly to manage traffic past the accident site. The vehicle also has an electronic message board on top that is used to keep road users informed of potential dangers or delays.

“We’ve had grateful feedback from road users praising our rapid arrival and helpful, professional service. One person said a ‘saviour with a polite, friendly face’ seemed to appear out of nowhere,” Mr Owen says.

The new rapid response service works closely with the ‘eyes on the network’ – the Transport Agency’s Transport Operations Centre in Johnsonville which monitors traffic throughout the Wellington region.

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