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Takaka Hill, SH 60 Update – Increasing access to Golden Bay

By Jenna Bowden

Since the aftermath of ex-tropical-cyclone Gita, the hill road has been open to restricted convoys morning and evening (7-8 am and 5-6 pm) and Sunday daytime hours, 8 am to 5 pm.

“We understand how vital this road is as a lifeline for people in Golden Bay, and we are doing everything possible to improve access,” says Frank Porter, Transport Agency System Manager.

“We need to balance the need to keep the road open as much as possible with the need to fully rebuild it.”

An extra hour morning and evening Monday to Saturday

As of this Wednesday 14 March, the open hours for Takaka Hill road are extending by an hour each morning and evening, ie 6-8am and 5-7pm.

  • The Sunday 8am to 5pm open hours remain the same.

Lunchtime permitted convoys continue, with commercial passenger transport included from this week

“The lunchtime essential freight convoy with daily permits continues,” says Mr Porter.

“We are also pleased to allow commercial bus and shuttle services to make the lunchtime trip as of this week, so long as they comply with the length restrictions.

“This will ease up access for some people who want to travel out of Golden Bay at lunchtime and come back in the evening on the same passenger service.”

Other easing of restrictions – a way to get bikes over the hill

While pedestrians and cyclists are not allowed to travel by foot or cycle over the hill, people can arrange bike transport through local bus or transport services, to get them over through the convoy system.

Cars or vans towing caravans, trailers and boats can now travel over morning and evening Monday to Saturday, and any time 8am – 5pm Sunday. The length of the object being towed is the only qualification.

  • Trailers/boats/caravans of 7 metres or more in length may not be allowed over the hill.
  • All travel is still by escorted convoy only.
  • Trucks towing trailers are not permitted on the hill at this stage.
  • Over-dimension or over width units or large coaches are not permitted.

What our crews have achieved so far

Transport Agency crews are working hard to widen the road around some of the tight bends that are currently not wide enough for truck and trailer units, says Mr Porter. “We are also surfacing sections of the road damaged in the storm, completing retaining wall repairs, repairing and installing new culverts and drains, and installing safety barriers.

“We are installing electronic sign boards in Takaka, Upper Takaka, Rai township, Murchison and Richmond to help keep people updated as to the status of the Takaka Hill road.”

Key safety messages for drivers on the hill and people waiting in the convoys

  • No overtaking on the Takaka Hill – people need to stay in their place in the convoy and drive with care once they are over the hill each side.
  • Turn your lights off while waiting at either end of the closure point so that your vehicle battery doesn’t go flat.
  • Please don’t wander out into the oncoming lane while you are waiting to join a convoy (particularly children).  Vehicles are travelling over the hill in that lane.
  • Make sure your vehicle is roadworthy and you have sufficient fuel.

Easter opening hours   – open each day, all day

  • The Takaka Hill road will be open 8am – 5pm all of Easter, Good Friday to Easter Monday inclusive.
  • The Thursday night (29 March) opening is likely to be later than from 5 pm – 7 pm. The exact hours open will be confirmed closer to Easter.

After Easter hours and access – Tuesday, 3 April onwards

The Transport Agency is aiming to open up the road to be used without convoys, outside of the daytime construction work, ie outside of 8 am to 5 pm Monday to Saturday, including overnight.  However, this planned timetable to move beyond the convoy system is dependent on good weather in coming weeks.

A big thank you

“To the people needing to travel over State Highway 60, Takaka Hill, since the storm, a big thanks for your patience and understanding and all the messages of support that have been sent through,” says Mr Porter.  “We also thank our road crews for their hard work under difficult conditions.”

Traffic and travel pages for convoy information which will be updated when arrangements change: http://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/areawarnings/202314(external link)

How to stay up to date:

0800 4 HIGHWAYS

The NZ Transport Agency works to create transport solutions for all New Zealanders – from helping new drivers earn their licences, to leading safety campaigns to investing in public transport, state highways and local roads.

http://www.nzta.govt.nz/media-releases/takaka-hill-sh-60-update-increasing-access-to-golden-bay

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