The Tākaka Hill road will be fully open in time for Christmas and the busy summer holiday period, with two sealed lanes back in operation on this section of SH60 from later this afternoon (Friday, 17 December). Final line marking is being completed today, says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.
Around 3 pm this afternoon, the traffic light system on the Riwaka side of the hill will be switched off and two lanes will open to traffic after nearly four years of work on this rebuild project, following Cyclone Gita.
“While we are pleased to have the road restored to two lanes, we know that many people will be used to the single lane/traffic light system after almost four years,” says Andrew Adams, Waka Kotahi Senior Project Manager.
“We are asking everyone to take special care as this winding road with multiple bends is still narrow and requires all drivers to keep to their side of the white centreline,” he says. “There are no median barriers on this route to safely separate oncoming traffic so we ask all drivers to stay alert and keep left.”
The speed limit for this section of highway will be temporarily set at 30km/h for a few days as work sites are tidied up prior to Christmas. The speed limit will then go to 50km/h until the New Year, until all road-side work is completed. This will also help motorists to adjust to the road returning to two lanes.
“Initially after the storm, the response was to allow essential traffic like the milk tankers and suppliers over the hill and for people to be able to get to medical appointments in Nelson and Motueka,” says Mr Adams. “Getting caravans and boats over the hill had to be managed carefully with allocated times and convoys in the first few months. Trucks with trailers were able to join the convoy a month after the 18 February, 2018 storm.
“With 15 work sites in total, the first ten more straightforward sites were tackled in the first two years, with the remaining five more complex and highly engineered work sites with deep retaining walls designed only after geotechnical investigations and then constructed over the past 18 months.
“The first Covid-19 shutdown in April 2020 delayed the start on this work and pushed it into the winter months, affecting its final completion date.
“The harsh conditions and complexity of work required in these steep gullies have been extremely challenging for the crews. It is very cold in winter on the south side of the hill.
“We thank everyone who has contributed, as well as residents, business owners, trades people, visitors to Mohua/Golden Bay - who have been patient throughout.
“There will be more tidying up around these work sites in the New Year but it will have a minor impact upon the two lane traffic.”
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