The start of September sees the first shoots of the summer road renewals programme start to form, with road workers shifting their attention from winter maintenance onto more proactive treatments.
Across the Waikato and Bay of Plenty region, repairs to the underlying structure of the road will be undertaken, in preparation for chipsealing later in the season. Additionally, the first road rebuild sites are also getting underway as crews look to make the most of what is expected to be drier than usual conditions.
This summer is going to be a busy one for road users and road workers, says Cara Lauder, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Regional Manager of Maintenance & Operations, and everyone will need to do their bit to ensure work can be completed with minimal disruption.
“This year’s maintenance programme is huge. We’re looking to renew more than 650 lane kilometres of the regional state highway network, which is significant in terms of the amount of time our contractors will be on the road. Last summer saw just over 475 lane kilometres renewed, so this year is a substantial increase on that number.
“In the early part of this year, a number of adverse weather events prevented contractors from completing their full renewal programme. This has, in part, led to the substantial increase in the coming maintenance programme.
“This maintenance work will be taking place alongside safety improvement projects such as State Highway 2 Waihī to Ōmōkoroa and State Highway 1 Cambridge to Piarere, and significant infrastructure projects like State Highway 1 Ngāruawāhia and Takitimu North Link.
“There’s also the ongoing recovery work on the Coromandel Peninsula and proactive resilience work dotted across the region. In short, there’s going to be a lot of work happening right across the region.”
Ms Lauder notes that roadworks often happen at the same time road users want to be travelling, however there are some tips and tricks to get around the region efficiently.
“We have to complete road renewals and major earthworks during the warmer, drier months, as this helps ensure high-quality roads that reduce the number of pesky potholes over winter. We realise this is at the same time New Zealanders and visitors from overseas are travelling on the state highway network for their holidays.
“People are going to see some significant delays on their key routes and the best tool for understanding how this impacts journeys is the Waka Kotahi Journey Planner. This shows all known worksite or hazards affecting access on the network and can assist with choosing the best route to your destination.
“When travelling long distances it pays to be prepared. Take a bottle or two of water along with some snacks, and take regular breaks to ensure you are feeling fresh and able to concentrate when on the road.
“Whenever you come up to a worksite, remember that our road workers are doing their best to complete their work and keep you moving at the same time – please be respectful and follow any instructions from road workers,” says Ms Lauder.
Key holiday periods will be kept as free as possible from roadworks, with contractors downing tools around lunchtime the day before a public holiday, picking them back up the morning after the holiday period ends, to help ease the pressure on peak travel periods.
Most of the renewal programme is expected to be complete by late-March 2024. However, some crews will continue into the autumn months, particularly those completing asphalt works.