Summer’s on its way - and so is the reopening of both lanes at State Highway 60 (SH60) at Birds Hill in Golden Bay. With better, more reliable weather on the horizon, the NZ Transport Agency is gearing up to get this road back to two lanes in time for the summer season.
Wet weather and cold temperatures at Birds Hill meant that the Transport Agency had to stop work during August and September because the conditions would hamper construction. But Regional Performance Manager Mark Owen says that everything’s ready for work to begin again on Monday 7 October, with the focus on completing this before the Christmas holiday period.
“It’s a shame that mother nature wasn’t more cooperative over winter, but we’re all looking forward to getting stuck into this job again. We’re equally focussed on getting both lanes open as soon as possible, but we’re also making sure we deliver a permanent, long term fix for this vulnerable hillside. We’ve got to make sure that this stretch of SH60 is structurally sound and can stand up to future subsidence.”
Mr Owen acknowledged that it’s been a long journey and thanked the local community for their understanding and support throughout the project.
“The Golden Bay community has been exceptionally patient since the road’s dramatic collapse in late 2011. It’s been a hard slog having just one lane here and on behalf of the NZTA, I’d like to say thank you. I know that everyone is champing at the bit to get their road back—and we’re champing at the bit to give it to them.
“Along with being able to withstand the elements better, Birds Hill will also be a much safer road when it re-opens. By purchasing some of the land next to the road, we’re going to be able to straighten things out a bit and make the shoulders wider. This is especially important for cyclists, who will have more road space to ride on.”
Along with restoring the road back to two lanes and making these key safety improvements, work at Birds Hill includes the construction of a reinforced soil slope and drainage upgrades to protect the hillside from future slips. NZTA will also install guardrails to help keep motorists safe.
Mr Owen also thanked the Tasman District Council and the local land owner’s support for this project.
“We know that everyone who uses this transport lifeline in and out of Golden Bay is keen for a safer road that can stand up to extreme weather - and we’re delighted to be back on the job. Thanks again to local residents and all motorists on this road for their patience and understanding while we do this important work.”