Work to widen one of the narrowest corners on the Rimutaka Hill Road, State Highway 2 between Wellington and the Wairarapa will now take place in the spring.
The work had been scheduled to start two months ago but was delayed by additional consenting requirements. While these have been resolved, NZ Transport Agency Regional Performance Manager Mark Owen says winter conditions make the work too hazardous, and increase the risk of accidents, both on the work site and for traffic in the area.
“The frequency with which snow, ice and high winds affect the road over winter means there’s a high risk that the project will take significantly longer than scheduled. This means additional disruption to drivers, higher costs, and our contractors would be exposed to hazardous conditions for longer.
“Leaving the work until spring means there’s a higher likelihood of the work being completed on time and on budget, with minimal disruption to motorists.”
The road will be widened by three metres at the narrowest point and require the removal of 2700 cubic metres of soil and rock from the hillside. A new road surface will be laid, and a new guardrail will also be installed.
The corner-widening project is one of a number of initiatives over recent years to improve safety for people travelling over the Rimutaka Hill Road, including the installation of roadside edge barriers to prevent drop-offs, a speed-activated electronic warning sign and signs that illuminate when a truck is approaching, and additional curve signage to alert drivers of the safe speeds to travel around curves.
Also planned for spring 2017 is work at a corner approximately 400 metres north, to install a new safety barrier and widen the road, providing more room for oncoming vehicles travelling around the corner.
“The Rimutaka Hill Road forms a critical part of State Highway 2. We will continue to maintain and improve the highway to keep it open and safe,” says Mr Owen.