Weather putting a dampener on road renewal work


Weather has been a constant conversation starter this summer, with rain more frequent than sun for large swathes of the country.

The forecast for the remainder of year continues to threaten more rain, though there are no reports that Santa’s travels will be affected.

This has had a significant impact on contractor’s ability to complete much-needed road renewals, as Waka Kotahi aims to complete the largest-ever maintenance programme.

This will put significant pressure on the first quarter of 2023, says Rob Campbell, Regional Manager of Maintenance and Operations at Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

“A number of our networks will have to complete 70-80% of their programme between 4 January, when they can return to work, and 31 March, when our renewal season ends. This coincides with a time when many New Zealander’s are looking to travel for their summer holidays.

“These two factors will put conflicting demands on the state highway network, and the best way to resolve this is to work together. All contractors are working hard to plan their work across the remaining months to ensure we minimise disruption as much as possible. We ask that road users do their part by planning their journeys, and respecting road crews at our worksites around the country.”

The recent wet weather has also had an impact on some recently completed project sites.

“There are a number of sites across the central North Island area that have had new seal washed away by rain or seen bitumen bleed through the seal due to unexpected high temperatures,” says Mr Campbell. “These issues can also be the result of an aging network, which our renewal programme is designed to help us get on top of.”

“With three times the average rainfall in November, and significant downpours earlier this month, we have simply been unable to work on our roads with consistency over the majority of the last two months.

“The weather has forced us to pause work on a number of road reconstruction sites as we lead up to the Christmas break. These sites will have a temporary seal put in place to ensure the site is passable over the two weeks crews are off site,” says Mr Campbell.

Contractors remain hopeful that along with the usual presents on Christmas Day, Santa might consider bringing some sunshine to the country.