With Labour Day creating the first long weekend after winter, state highways in Waikato and Bay of Plenty will be busy and the NZ Transport Agency is reminding drivers to plan ahead to avoid delays and stay safe.
'When you combine the higher number of cars on the road, tiredness and driving on unfamiliar roads it can create stressful driving situations which can in turn lead to mistakes,' says the Transport Agency’s Waikato and Bay of Plenty State Highways Manager, Niclas Johansson.
'Reducing your speed and increasing your following distances play a major role in minimising the potentially serious consequences of those mistakes.'
'There’s a lot of construction and maintenance happening on state highways across the regions and we ask motorists to slow down through these sites. Even when there’s not obvious work taking place there are hazards that mean you should keep within the reduced speed limit to keep yourselves, your families and other road users safe. It also reduces damage to what can be newly surfaced or repaired roads.'
Top tips for safe Labour Weekend travel
• Take time to make sure your vehicle is safe before hitting the road
• Do not drink and drive
• Allow plenty of time, avoid the need to rush, share the driving and enjoy the journey
• Plan your route and your time of travel to avoid congestion
Plan ahead to avoid congestion
The Transport Agency has again published data based on previous Labour Weekends which shows the areas and times that are mostly likely to be congested. They can be found at www.nzta.govt.nz/hotspots.
'We know that a couple of the biggest pinch points are on State Highway 29 at the Kaimais and State Highway 2 between Paeroa and Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty. In the Waikato State Highway 1 at Taupiri north of Hamilton, State Highway 1 at Karapiro and State Highway 2 at Maramarua are the places to watch,' says Mr Johansson.
'The busiest times start early Friday afternoon to early evening and then again on Saturday morning. Things pick up again for the journey home on Monday where on State Highway 1 at Karapiro for example traffic is at its heaviest from 11.30am until 6.30pm.'
'If you can travel outside of these busiest times it will help reduce your chances of being stuck in a queue and help keep traffic moving,' Mr Johansson says.
Motorists can get real time information from:
For Waikato/Bay of Plenty updates
For current travel times use: www.drivelive.nz(external link)
For personalised information about driving conditions on their frequently used routes, motorists can check out and sign up to On the Move (external link)(external link).
Work or events that are scheduled to start in the next week or are currently underway are detailed below to help people plan ahead when travelling. Works and events are weather dependent and may be postponed if necessary.
Tongariro River Bridge
The NZ Transport Agency is urging drivers to comply with a 50km/h speed restriction in place over the Tongariro River Bridge on SH1 just north of Turangi.
The temporary speed restrictions were introduced after routine inspections identified the need to carry out repairs to the underside of the bridge. Limiting speeds to 50km/h will significantly reduce the stress vehicles put on the bridge structure and prolong its life.
Repairs are programmed to start the week after Labour Weekend, and due to be complete in early December.
During the construction period 30km/h speed restrictions and/or stop/go operations will be required.
The Transport Agency is urging all drivers to respect the speed restrictions and thanks them for their patience. Much of the work will be below the road and not visible to the public, however speed restrictions will ensure the safety of workers and drivers.
Cambridge final surfacing
Applying the quieter final asphalt surface on the Cambridge section of the Waikato Expressway begins in early November.
NZ Transport Agency contractors will start the final surfacing adjacent to the urban areas of Cambridge East, before moving to the Tamahere end and proceeding south.
Most of the work will be done at night with the whole job is expected to be finished in February.
Motorists can expect a single lane closure and 50km/h speed restriction in place at night, with the newly sealed section having an 80km/h restriction during the day.
The Open Graded Porous Asphalt (OGPA) will be applied over the chipseal. Final surfacing is normally done 12 months after the opening of the road, but it has been bought forward a few months to reduce road noise.
The asphalt will be epoxy-modified and is expected to more than double the lifespan of the average road surface.
New pedestrian crossing
A signalised pedestrian crossing is to be built on SH3-Ohaupo Road in Hamilton, adjacent to the Glenview shopping centre.
The NZ Transport Agency will begin installation work in November and be finished by Christmas.
The crossing has been included in the shared pedestrian and cycling path project on SH3 which is nearing completion. Original plans did not include the crossing but at the request of community groups, supported by Hamilton City Council, the crossing was reviewed and included in the current works. The cost is approximately $300,000.
This will be the only controlled crossing point on Ohaupo Road between Dixon Road and Collins Road, a distance of 1.6km.
Cambridge pedestrian crossing
Pedestrian traffic lights are expected to be operating on SH1B-Victoria Road in Cambridge next week.
A signalised crossing has been built near Williams Street, while further north an informal crossing with a central refuge island is being built near Taylor Street.
The lights are expected to be operating next week.
Victoria Road/SH1B has got busier since the Cambridge section of the Waikato Expressway opened in December 2015 and these crossings, installed by the NZ Transport Agency, will improve safety for all pedestrians, particularly school children going to and from schools in the area.
With changes to the road layout the Transport Agency asks drivers to take care in the area. And pedestrians using the new signalised crossing are urged to check vehicles have stopped before stepping out – even when pedestrians have the green light.
State Highway slips
Work continues on a long-term solution to the slip on SH3 south of Mokau, and the road remains single lane with stop/go in place. The road was closed for four days following the slip on September 18 and remains single lane while monitoring, inspections and testing continue for a long-term solution.
Meanwhile work is wrapping up on a similar situation on SH25, 9km south of Coromandel town. A slip there resulted in a full closure, then single lane. On Friday (21 Oct) it was expected to return to two-way following pavement sealing, weather permitting. A 40-metre retainer wall has been built as a lasting solution.
Bay of Plenty
Te Puke Highway rehabilitation work
Rehabilitation work is being carried out between Poplar Lane and Kopuroa Canal Bridge (Longswamp). There is a 30kph temporary speed limit in place with lane shifts and metal surface. Extra care is required when traveling through this site.
SH2 Wainui road to Sergeants Drive seal repairs
Seal repairs are expected to place on Tuesday 25th October and Wednesday 26th October on State Highway 2 at Wainui Road.. A 50kph temporary speed limit will be in place with lane shifts. Extra care will be required throughout the site.
Work is also on-going on SH2/TePuna Rd intersection, the Hairini underpass, SH29A/ Poike Road and the SH29/29A/36 intersection. The NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists to stick to the speed limits in place and drive safely.