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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

Safety drives essential maintenance on Taranaki state highways

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency says road crews are monitoring the state highway network in the Taranaki to ensure the safe movement of essential goods like medical supplies to hospitals and food to supermarkets during New Zealand’s COVID-19 response.

Taranaki System Manager Ross I’Anson says while all non-essential work has been halted, safely maintaining the state highway system is considered vital in order to ensure that critical functions to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus can continue.

“The Level 4 lockdown requires us to undertake essential maintenance activities only. Unless there are major weather-related events that require slip clearing and damage repairs, the primary and ongoing focus will be on the safety of the network.” 

Waka Kotahi asks people to be patient and respectful to roadworkers and look out for their safety and wellbeing. 

“If you see contractors out on the roads during the shutdown period, please remember that they are carrying out essential work to keep us all safe. If you are using the roads during this period remember to comply with any temporary speed reductions through roadworks to keep workers safe. They are doing vital work and we all owe them a debt of gratitude.”

Mr I’Anson says while no new maintenance work will be started, there is work to complete. Under the COVID-19 restrictions, Waka Kotahi considers essential maintenance to be any unfinished work that contributes to the safe operation and resilience of the transport system, such as:

  • Line-marking and rumble strip replacement and repair – usually carried out as part of an annual or twice-yearly programme of work. It’s important for driver safety that roads are clearly marked for both day and night use, and that all re-marking is completed.
  • Completing some critical maintenance work to ensure our state highways are safe and resilient heading into winter.
  • Vegetation works and mowing to ensure the inside of curves or intersection sightlines are maintained.
  • Road surfacing repairs and fixing of potholes before the onset of winter.
  • Drainage works critical to maintaining the network.
  • Repair or replacement of damaged road signs and median barriers.

Mr I’Anson says some partially-completed repair work in Taranaki started before the lockdown may be completed if there is a risk of road conditions deteriorating which could compromise safety.   

“All other non-essential maintenance including scheduled resealing is on hold until the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. With the changing seasonal weather, some bigger resealing projects will be deferred until the next maintenance season.”   

Mr I’Anson says Waka Kotahi is focused on ensuring the health and safety of workers and contractors and all essential maintenance work is carried out in line with Ministry of Health COVID-19 guidance. 

“We have five crews out on the network each day, with others supporting as needed. Where each crew would usually have two or three people in a vehicle, we now have each person in a separate vehicle, and they maintain social distancing while working.”

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