Tairawhiti Roads is urging Gisborne road users to plan ahead as Cyclone Pam bears down on the East Coast, and to avoid nonessential travel during severe weather.
MetService has issued a severe weather watch for northern and eastern parts of the country as the cyclone heads towards New Zealand.
Tairawhiti Roads general manager Dave Hadfield says heavy rain and strong winds will make conditions challenging for all road users.
“It is going to be a difficult and potentially dangerous time for travel over the coming days and people will need to plan carefully to make sure they reach their destination safely.”
Mr Hadfield advises motorists to avoid any non-essential travel during severe weather, particularly around Monday, when the worst weather is forecast.
“If you’ve got any important errands to run, get them done before the weather hits, because you may need to batten down the hatches and stay put for a while.”
“If in doubt, always put the safety of yourself and others first. We would love to get through this storm without any casualties.”
Mr Hadfield says there are a number of things people can do to keep safe if they do have to travel.
“It is important to drive to the conditions. Reduce driving speeds below the legal limit and increase following distances – vehicles need two to three times more stopping distance in wet weather.”
Mr Hadfield says care will also be needed in those areas exposed to strong winds – such as State Highway 35 (SH35) along the East Cape and other roads along the coast.
It is possible that roads will be closed by slips and flooding and some may not be able to be cleared until the storm subsides.
Motorists should be alert to surface flooding, fallen trees and debris, he says.
“People should always expect the unexpected, especially if they are travelling at night on country roads where there is minimal lighting.”
Motorcyclists, cyclists and high-sided vehicles such as campervans are particularly vulnerable to high winds, and extra caution is advised for those travellers.
New Zealand has a number of remote areas with difficult topography and winding roads, and these journeys become even more challenging when bad weather hits.
“We ask drivers to watch their speeds on corners, and remain vigilant for slips, debris and the higher risk of vehicles losing control in these conditions,” says Mr Hadfield.
Tairawhiti Roads will be working with local authorities and emergency services to keep roads open and safe for travellers.
Tairawhiti Roads is the newly formed agency, consisting of Gisborne District Council and the NZ Transport Agency, that collectively manages Gisborne’s roading network.
There are a number of ways people can plan their journey:
For real time information on highway conditions and incidents visit www.nzta.govt.nz(external link) call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS.
For personalised information about driving conditions on their frequently used routes, motorists can check out and sign up to On The Move at www.onthemove.govt.nz.(external link)
For more information please contact:
Media Manager - Central
T: 04 894 5251
M: 027 213 7617