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Safer, permanent new road getting underway at Birds Hill

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State Highway 60 at Birds Hill to Golden Bay is on track to be restored to two lanes before winter, with the NZ Transport Agency beginning construction next week on the reinstatement of the road after its dramatic collapse in the December 2011 storms.

The reinstatement will provide a safer road that is specially designed to withstand the future brunt of adverse weather.

NZTA Regional Operations Manager Mark Owen says the NZTA is thrilled to be getting cracking on the physical work following extensive investigation and design to ensure a permanent, long term fix for the vulnerable hillside.

"It's really heartening to be able to get stuck in and fix this road after its initial closure and subsequent 12 month restriction to one lane. It's crucial that the region has the security of a well planned, long-term solution that provides permanent protection for the transport lifeline in and out of Golden Bay.  We've prepared for this work extensively over the last year to ensure it's structurally sound and will stand up to future subsidence.

"We've worked closely alongside the Golden Bay community and Tasman District Council, and their support has been absolutely critical in getting us to the start line. The public have been really patient and understanding, and they will no doubt be happy to see this work get underway."

“Having two lanes in place will also provide benefits to freight and tourism by providing a more efficient, resilient piece of highway for the Golden Bay area.”

Mr Owen says the reinstatement of the road back to two lanes is expected to be completed in May, meaning the road will be fully restored in time for winter. The work will also involve the construction of a reinforced soil slope and drainage improvements to protect the hillside from future slips, and guardrails to keep motorists safe.

Mr Owen says temporary traffic management will be in place to enable construction to proceed safely. This may involve stop/go traffic controls and minor delays. Signage will be in place, including electronic message signs to advise motorists of the work ahead. Mr Owen says the NZTA are grateful to motorists for their patience during this important project.

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