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State highway works in Wellington and Wairarapa are resuming, following the move to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 this week for most of New Zealand, excluding Auckland and Northland.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency paused all non-essential state highway maintenance and project work with the move to Alert Level 4 at 11.59pm on Tuesday 17 August, with only essential maintenance and work to ensure security, safety and environmental protection of sites permitted during the lockdown.

“The health and safety of our workers and road users remains the top priority for Waka Kotahi and although some work is resuming, Level 3 is not a return to normal,” Regional Manager Infrastructure Delivery Jetesh Bhula says.

“Waka Kotahi is working closely with our contractors on individual COVID-19 plans for each of our worksites. Each of these plans will align with the new Health Order and strict industry standards provided by Construction Health and Safety NZ (CHASNZ).

“The plans include standards and guidelines for pre-planning work, documenting the health and safety of staff, maintaining safe physical distancing, cleaning of all plant, tools and vehicles, and quickly and accurately tracing people should they come into contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.”

The individual plans must be accepted by Waka Kotahi before projects can resume and will be closely monitored to ensure all contractors are complying with the requirements to maintain the health and safety of workers and people travelling on the state highways.

“Getting back into on-site work will be different for each project and timings will depend on the nature and complexity of worksites. Some on-site activity will be able to resume straight away, while other sites and projects may take time to be fully operational,” Mr Bhula says.

“Infrastructure plays a vital role in the economic recovery of New Zealand so it’s important that work continues, but we won’t compromise on the health and safety of our workers and road users, which is our top priority.”

On Transmission Gully, Wellington Gateway Partnership advises Waka Kotahi that their subcontractor, CPB HEB Joint Venture, has resumed work on some activities including surface paving, material supply, drainage, barriers and planting. All work is being carried out under strict health and safety protocols that align with Government guidelines and industry standards provided by CHASNZ.

Maintenance work is also resuming across Wellington and Wairarapa since the move to Level 3.

“Resuming our critical maintenance work as we head into the drier season will help ensure we continue to provide a safe, efficient and accessible state highway network over the next 12 months,” Mr Bhula says.

“Maintenance activities will use similar COVID-19 plans to keep our workers and the communities we work in safe.

“We’d like to remind people driving through our worksites to please be patient and mindful of our workers who are stepping outside of their bubbles to do important work to keep everyone safe on our roads.”

Waka Kotahi expects to be able to provide more detail on individual projects over the next week.

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