Aotearoa’s state highway network set for busy summer

In News4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineOctober 6, 2023

Waka Kotahi crews have been working on the roads earlier than usual ahead of the summer season.

In total, more than 2500 lane kilometres of road will be rebuilt or resealed over the coming six to seven months, however this is only part of the overall picture, said Jacqui Hori-Hoult, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency acting national manager, maintenance & operations.

“This summer will see an unprecedented level of activity on the state highway network across the motu,” she said.

As well as the significant renewal programme, which is about 20% larger than last summer’s, there will be recovery work across the upper North Island, safety-related programmes and larger infrastructure projects.

“For road users this means that you will likely experience roadworks at some stage this summer, particularly if you are driving long distances during the peak of summer,” said Hori-Hoult.

“Unfortunately, we can only build new roads during the warmer, drier months of the year, so we will be working hard at the same time as people are holidaying.”

Every region has a full programme of work this summer, though particular focus is on the centre of the North Island, due to the impact of several weather events leading to ongoing recovery works, and the associated pause of renewal programmes in January and February this year.

“We continue to see the impact of weather events on the state highway network,” saidHori-Hoult.

“Most recently, we have experienced significant rainfall and land movement on State Highway 6 in the Haast Pass area. Once again, our crews responded superbly and re-opened access as quickly as possible.”

People are going to see some significant delays on their key routes and the best tool for understanding how this impacts any journey is the Waka Kotahi Journey Planner. This shows all known worksite or hazards affecting access on the network and can help with choosing the best route to your destination.

“When travelling long distances it pays to plan ahead and be prepared. Take a bottle or two of water along with some snacks, and take regular breaks to ensure you are feeling fresh and able to concentrate when on the road,” Hori-Hoult said.

“Whenever you come up to a worksite, remember that our road workers are someone’s whanau or friend, and are doing their best to complete their work and keep you moving at the same time – please be respectful and follow any instructions from road workers.”

Key holiday periods will be kept as free as possible from roadworks, with contractors downing tools around lunchtime the day before a public holiday, picking them back up the morning after the holiday period ends, to help ease the pressure on peak travel periods.

Most of the renewal programme is expected to be complete by late-March 2024. However, some crews will continue into the autumn months, particularly those completing asphalt works.