The summer construction season for road maintenance on Southland state highways is well underway and will continue until late March 2021, says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. The programme includes road reconstructions and resurfacing.
“The first job in the New Year will be the overlay of SH6 at Gap Road south of Winton,” says Justin Reid, Maintenance Contract Manager for Waka Kotahi in Southland. “The drainage and preparation work was completed in November. Until we restart in the New Year, road surfaces like this can be affected by the summer heat with flushing (shown as a shiny, black surface on the highway) and less traction for drivers, so please slow down and observe the posted speed limits which are in place for the safety of everyone.”
Other sites programmed for work due to low skid resistance and therefore under temporary speed restrictions to keep road users safe are SH99 at Waimatuku and at Livingstone Road and SH1 at the north end of Mataura. Both areas on SH99 are due to be resurfaced in the next month. The Mataura site is the location of a hot chip trial in February.
On SH96 in Ohai, there has been continued subsidence in the shoulder at the Crawford Rail Tunnel, and the highway in this area has been reduced to one lane for the safety of road users. Drainage at this area will be installed before Christmas, and the site monitored to allow engineers to complete designs for a full repair in the New Year.
There are two more areas of state highways being reconstructed in early 2021, both on SH94 west of Mossburn. There will also be work beginning on the Elles Road – SH 1 intersection upgrade on Bluff highway early in 2021.
“The dry warm weather we experience in Southland over summer can also lead to ‘summer ice’,” says Mr Reid. “During long dry spells, dust, dirt, oil and other materials build up on the road surface. When it rains, the road surface becomes greasy, making it very slippery. The greatest risk to drivers is shortly after the rain starts. If driving after a dry spell and rain is falling, keep your speeds down, take extra care on curves, increase your following distance and brake and steer gently.”
As well as the busy summer roadworks programme, work crews stop for their family break before busy holiday travel periods between Christmas and New Year, which helps minimise disruption to people’s journeys.
“We want to keep everyone safe over the festive season. Plan ahead, drive refreshed and drive to the conditions.”
To help you know where there is likely to be congestion at particular times on your highway journey around New Zealand this summer check this before you head away: https://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/holiday-journeys/summer-holidays-2020(external link)
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