The NZ Transport Agency says access to Takaka and Golden Bay via Takaka Hill Road, State Highway 60, will be increased from this Wednesday (14 March.)
Since the aftermath of ex-tropical-cyclone Gita, the hill road has been open to restricted convoys morning and evening (7-8 am and 5-6 pm) and Sunday daytime hours, 8 am to 5 pm.
“We understand how vital this road is as a lifeline for people in Golden Bay, and we are doing everything possible to improve access,” says Frank Porter, Transport Agency System Manager.
“We need to balance the need to keep the road open as much as possible with the need to fully rebuild it.”
As of this Wednesday 14 March, the open hours for Takaka Hill road are extending by an hour each morning and evening, ie 6-8am and 5-7pm.
The Sunday 8am to 5pm open hours remain the same.
“The lunchtime essential freight convoy with daily permits continues,” says Mr Porter.
“We are also pleased to allow commercial bus and shuttle services to make the lunchtime trip as of this week, so long as they comply with the length restrictions.
“This will ease up access for some people who want to travel out of Golden Bay at lunchtime and come back in the evening on the same passenger service.”
While pedestrians and cyclists are not allowed to travel by foot or cycle over the hill, people can arrange bike transport through local bus or transport services, to get them over through the convoy system.
Cars or vans towing caravans, trailers and boats can now travel over morning and evening Monday to Saturday, and any time 8am – 5pm Sunday. The length of the object being towed is the only qualification.
Transport Agency crews are working hard to widen the road around some of the tight bends that are currently not wide enough for truck and trailer units, says Mr Porter. “We are also surfacing sections of the road damaged in the storm, completing retaining wall repairs, repairing and installing new culverts and drains, and installing safety barriers.
“We are installing electronic sign boards in Takaka, Upper Takaka, Rai township, Murchison and Richmond to help keep people updated as to the status of the Takaka Hill road.”
The Transport Agency is aiming to open up the road to be used without convoys, outside of the daytime construction work, ie outside of 8 am to 5 pm Monday to Saturday, including overnight. However, this planned timetable to move beyond the convoy system is dependent on good weather in coming weeks.
“To the people needing to travel over State Highway 60, Takaka Hill, since the storm, a big thanks for your patience and understanding and all the messages of support that have been sent through,” says Mr Porter. “We also thank our road crews for their hard work under difficult conditions.”
Traffic and travel pages for convoy information which will be updated when arrangements change: www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/areawarnings/202314 (external link)