The NZ Transport Agency advises motorists to drive with care and be aware of agricultural vehicles on Bay of Plenty highways this month, during the annual kiwifruit harvest.
Around 360,000 tonnes of the fruit is expected to be harvested in the region between March and mid-June.
Roads including State Highway 2 (SH2) between Katikati and Tauranga and Tauranga and Paengaroa, State Highway 36 and State Highway 29 will be busy as the fruit is packed and trucked from the orchards to packhouses and cool stores around the Bay of Plenty.
The Transport Agency’s Bay of Plenty Journey Manager, Nigel D’Ath says it’s important that motorists drive with care while the extra trucks and other agricultural vehicles, including tractors and forklifts, are on the road.
"Tractors and forklifts generally travel along the road shoulder and are a lot slower than other vehicles," he says.
"It's important to be patient and pass only when you can safely do so."
Mr D'Ath says in good road and weather conditions, people should leave a gap of at least three seconds between their vehicle and the truck in front of them – and an even greater gap when conditions are poor.
“Trucks have a big blind spot, so if you can’t see a trucks side mirrors, the driver can’t see you," he says.
"It is also important to remember that it takes a truck longer to stop. Other road users can help truck drivers by leaving them plenty of braking space and indicating sooner before changing lanes or turning.
“At 90 km/h, it will generally take a truck-trailer unit more than twice as far to stop as it would take a car, because of the truck-trailer unit’s weight and the design of its brakes.
The Transport Agency is working with its contractors to ensure road works caused minimal delays during the important harvest period.
Sites where delays are possible are detailed below to help road users plan ahead when travelling.
Stop/go traffic management and speed restrictions will be in place at up to eleven different work sites on SH2 at various times over the next two weeks.
Contractors are carrying out shoulder widening, installing new safety guard railing and felling trees close to the highway to improve safety.
Contractors will be working from 6am to 6pm and motorists travelling on this route should allow for delays of up to 10 minutes. The work started in April and is expected to be completed by early July.
Construction work is on-going on the Tauranga Eastern Link between Te Maunga and the Domain Road interchange. Drivers are encouraged to expect changes to the road layout and drive with care through this area at all times.
A speed restriction of 70km/h is in place on a 400m stretch of SH2, as contractors repair a road slip near Bridgman Lane, near the Athenree Gorge.
This work is expected to be complete by the end of May. Motorists are advised to allow an extra five minutes when travelling on this route.
Speed restrictions and traffic management will be in place from next week until mid-June while contractors work on a 200m stretch of Turret Road, and carry out tide protection works on the side of the Hairini causeway.
Work hours are from 9am until 4am to reduce traffic delays at peak times and some of the work may be carried out at night.
Motorists are advised to allow an extra five minutes when travelling on the route.
For real time information on highway conditions and incidents visit www.nzta.govt.nz(external link) call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS or follow @nztawaibop on twitter.
For personalised information about driving conditions on their frequently used routes, motorists can check out and sign up to On The Move at www.onthemove.govt.nz.(external link)