Hawke‘s Bay Watchman Road project receives top award

4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJuly 8, 2019

From the second person on the left: Rob Partridge (NZTA), Mike Job (Higgins), Ralph Fouche (Stantec), Stefan Steyn (Opus) and William Gray (Opus).

The State Highway 2 Watchman Road project has scooped the award for Best Public Works Project over $5 million at the Institute of Public Works Engineers Australasia (IPWEA) NZ Excellence Awards held in Wellington last week.

The $13 million project to improve safety at the busy intersection was co-funded by the NZ Transport Agency, Napier City Council and Hawke‘s Bay Airport, and completed in September last year.

NZTA senior project manager Rob Partridge says the agency is thrilled with the recognition the project has received.

“Much of the project‘s success was because of the feedback and advice our community and stakeholders gave us. By setting up a ‘connection group‘ with residents, estuary protection advocates and tangata whenua, we were able to create an asset that the community can be proud of.Wa

“The previous intersection was among the most high-risk intersections in New Zealand. This project has made it much safer and more efficient, with a new roundabout, widening and strengthening of Watchman Road, and a new airport access road.

“We now have not only a safe intersection, but also one that preserves the environment, visually tells our story and provides a fantastic new gateway to the Hawke‘s Bay region.

“The Transport Agency could not have delivered this project to such a high standard without our key consultants and contractors, OPUS, Stantec and Higgins, or our key partners and advisors, Mana Ahuriri, wildlife expert Tony Billings and artist Jacob Scott.”

As well as improvements to the roading layout and width, new cycling and walking paths were developed through the adjacent Ahuriri Estuary and Westshore Wildlife Reserve.

Partridge says a key focus for the project team was ensuring the protection and enhancement of the Westshore Wildlife Reserve wetland and the biodiversity that lives there.

“We worked closely with wildlife expert Tony Billings to develop an exceptional environmental plan. Part of the environmental mitigation measures included converting a large portion of land at the southern end of the Westshore Wildlife Reserve into a scrape lake – a shallow excavation that holds water in winter months and was designed to attract migratory birds, wading birds and waterfowl.

“To complete what‘s effectively the ‘gateway to the region‘, a stunning sculpture sits at the heart of the roundabout with the shape of the kuaka (godwit) becoming visible from the air. The roundabout is the eye of the bird and the traffic islands form the beak,” Partridge says.

Several artworks by local artists Jacob Scott and Ricks Verstappen have been installed including five large powhenua, 150 birds, and pou that represent each marae from Mahia to the Wairarapa.

This award follows two other awards given to the project this year including the New Zealand Planning Institute Te Kokiringa Taumata Rodney Davis Project 2019 Award, and an award from Civil Contractors NZ for construction.

The Watchman Road project was the start of the Hawke‘s Bay Expressway project that will improve road safety from Bay View to Pakipaki. The improvements form part of a $36 million programme designed to stop people from being injured or killed on this stretch of road.