State highway works in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty will resume from today (Wednesday 1 September), with last night’s move to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 for most of the country, excluding Auckland and Northland.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency paused all non-essential maintenance and project work with the move to Alert Level 4 at 11.59pm on Tuesday 17 August.
Regional Manager Infrastructure Delivery Jo Wilton says the safety of workers and road users remains the top priority for Waka Kotahi and Alert Level 3 is not a return to normal.
“We're working with contractors on specific COVID-19 plans for each of our work sites. Every one of these plans will align with the new Health Order and strict industry standards provided by Construction Health and Safety NZ.
“These standards and guidelines include measures for pre-planning work, documenting the health and safety of staff, ensuring safe physical distancing is maintained, cleaning of all plant, tools and vehicles, and being able to quickly and accurately trace people should they come in contact with someone who contracts COVID-19.”
The individual plans must be accepted by Waka Kotahi before the project can resume and will be closely monitored to ensure each contractor is complying with the requirements to look after the health and safety of workers and the travelling public.
“The transition back to on-site work will be different for every project, and the timing will depend on the nature and complexity of work sites. Some on-site activity will be able to resume straight away, but it will take time for some sites and projects to be fully operational.”
Some projects are also reliant on personnel and resources currently impacted by the Level 4 lockdown in Auckland, Ms Wilton says.
“Infrastructure plays a critical role in the economic recovery of New Zealand so it’s important this work continues, but we will not compromise on the safety of road workers or of road users.”
Maintenance work will also resume across the Bay of Plenty and Waikato. Restarting critical maintenance work as we head into the drier season ensures we are in a position to provide a safe, efficient and accessible state highway network over the next 12 months.
“Maintenance operations will use similar plans to ensure the safety of our people and the communities we work in.”
Ms Wilton encouraged people driving through worksites to be patient, respectful, and look out for road workers who are stepping outside of their bubbles to do vital work to keep us all safe.
Waka Kotahi expects to be able to provide more detail on individual projects over the next week.
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