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Workin’ in a winter weather blast: CNI state highway works continue through winter

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Recent wild weather has left Central North Island state highway road maintenance contractors with a big clean-up job to ensure people and freight can continue to move safely and efficiently around the region.

Regional Manager Maintenance and Operations Jaclyn Hankin says winter is always harsh on the roads but the weather late last week and early this week has made for a particularly rough start to the season.

“Our contractors have been dealing with high winds and heavy rain resulting in road closures, slips, flooding, downed trees and branches, as well as a significant number of potholes.

“Water does to roads what sugar does to your teeth – it causes our road surfaces to decay and potholes to form. When water penetrates the road surface through cracks, tyre action and weather can quickly turn these cracks into potholes.”

Waka Kotahi undertakes regular temporary pothole repairs during winter, followed by permanent repairs in summer when conditions are warm and dry. Repairing potholes, even temporarily, helps ensure the safety of everyone who uses the road. 

However, Ms Hankin says, people should be prepared for winter driving conditions and take care.

“Potholes can cause damage to tyres and wheel rims. They are also higher risk for more vulnerable road users, such as people who cycle and ride motorcycles.

“We encourage people to drive to the conditions, slow down and maintain a safe following distance between their vehicle and the one in front to maximise their chance of seeing and responding to a pothole in the road. Potholes and other hazards can be harder to see in heavy rain and low light, which are both more prevalent in winter.”

Some of the worst affected areas across the Central North Island include:

Taranaki:

  • State Highway 3 north between Taranaki and Waikato
  • State Highway 3 between New Plymouth and Hawera
  • State Highway 4 near Taumarunui
  • State Highway 43 near Taumarunui

Manawatū/Whanganui:

  • State Highway 2 north of Dannevirke
  • State Highway 4 from Whanganui to Raetihi
  • State Highway 54 Waituna West to Vinegar Hill
  • Saddle Road

Hawke’s Bay:

  • State Highway 2, Bay View, Napier
  • State Highway 2, north of Wairoa
  • State Highway 50, Gwavas
  • State Highway 5, Tarawera

Tairāwhiti Gisborne:

  • State Highway 35, north of Gisborne

While work will continue at some of these locations during winter, others are scheduled for significant repair and resurfacing work during the next summer maintenance season, which kicks off later this year.

“Work on our state highways doesn’t stop just because it’s winter. Our crews are out, night and day, in all weather conditions travelling the state highway network, identifying any issues and prioritising repairs to help keep everyone using the roads safe.”

“It’s a challenging environment, but we are working really hard to ensure a safe, reliable state highway network.”

Ms Hankin says people can help by reporting any potholes, slips, flooding and downed trees by calling 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49).

“Our contractors can’t be everywhere at once and the ‘eyes on the ground’ from members of the public and the freight community is really helpful in ensuring we are aware of, and can respond to, these hazards quickly.”

Finally, Ms Hankin encourages everyone to drive to the conditions, follow the below winter driving tips, and be kind and respectful to roadworkers who are working long hours in all weather conditions to help ensure everyone can get where they’re going safely.

Winter driving tips

  • Check weather and travel conditions on highways before you start your trip and on breaks throughout your journey - use Journey Planner website or call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49).
    Journey Planner website(external link)
  • Ensure your car is safe and equipped: spare tyre, warrant of fitness up-to-date, lights, brakes and wind-wipers all working, clean windscreen inside and out, check tyre treads to ensure good grip.
  • If you are travelling long distances, share the driving and have regular breaks.
  • Wear your seat belt throughout the journey and check your passengers have theirs clicked in too.
  • Driving on roads that are exposed to snow and ice can be treacherous, so slow down and drive to the conditions, not the allowable/legal speed limit. Increase the following distance between you and the vehicle ahead.
  • Be prepared when travelling in case of delays on the road, particularly in alpine conditions. Make sure you have warm clothes/food/water/charged mobile phone. In an emergency, phone 111. Bear in mind some parts of the highway have no cell coverage.
  • Learn about winter driving, including how to get your vehicle ready and if you are driving in an area where chains may be needed, practise putting them on before you go so you are not caught out

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