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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

The NZ Transport Agency is asking people on the West Coast and in Buller District to take extreme care driving through the Lower Buller Gorge for the next month or so. The equipment for the traffic signals controlling the one-way traffic through the narrow Fern Arch area were stolen at the end of last week.

The signals and equipment are in an area with no power supply. The theft raises the safety risk for drivers on this part of the highway.

“The control cabinet at the Fern Arch traffic signals was broken into last week on Thursday night, 7 February,” says Transport Agency Maintenance Contract Manager Moira Whinham. “The generator, solar controller and uninterrupted power supply were stolen. This equipment provides the power for the signals so they can’t operate without it. Replacement parts will take at least four weeks to arrive and are expected to cost $30,000-40,000.

“We are really disappointed at this theft of a key piece of highway safety equipment and urge anyone with any details to let us have them – phone 0800 4 HIGHWAYS.”

The damaged cabinet and control panel for the Fern Arch traffic signals

Fern Arch is a narrow, single lane section of the picturesque Buller Gorge highway with limited visibility around the bend in each direction

“We are reviewing the traffic controls at the site and will be putting in place temporary controls while the permanent lights are out of service,” says Ms Whinham. “Road users are advised to proceed with caution through this site at all times while the temporary traffic control is in place, until the permanent signals are fully restored.”

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