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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

State highway works in the Manawatū and Whanganui are resuming from today (Wednesday 1 September), following last night’s move to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 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.

Regional Manager Infrastructure Delivery Lonnie Dalzell says the health and safety of workers and road users continues to be the top priority for Waka Kotahi and although some work is resuming, Level 3 is not a return to normal.

“We’re working closely with our contractors on specific 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).

“These 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 if they come in contact with someone who contracts COVID-19.”

The individual plans must be accepted by Waka Kotahi before a project can resume and will be closely monitored to ensure each contractor is complying with the requirements to ensure the health and safety of workers and people travelling on the state highways.

“The transition back to 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 get back up straight away, but it may take time for some sites and projects to be fully operational,” Mr Dalzell says.

“I know everyone in the Manawatū will be particularly interested in what’s happening on our Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway project. Construction on the project will resume today, in accordance with Government guidance and approved health and safety plans.

“The earthworks, environmental, laboratory, landscaping, structures and kaitiaki teams will be returning to site and working under strict health and safety protocols that have been accepted by Waka Kotahi and align with industry standards provided by CHASNZ.

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

Maintenance work will also resume across the Manawatū and Whanganui from today.

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

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

“We’d like to remind people driving through worksites to please be patient and look out for road workers who are stepping outside of their bubbles to do vital work to keep us all safe.”

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

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