Work crews hit the roads to tidy up weather damage

12:08 pm on 19 June 2022

Wet weather has wreaked havoc on the country's state highway network and contractors are expected to be out repairing potholes, slips and surface erosion throughout winter.

The speed limit on 76km of State Highway 5 between Napier and Taupō has been lowered to 80km/h.

Photo: RNZ / Screenshot

Waka Kotahi manager of maintenance and operations Roger Brady said surface water caused damage to the road structure, and a range of repairs were planned.

He said contractors would focus on completing minor repairs to maintain the integrity of the road before more permanent repairs could be completed in the warmer months.

Thermal mapping was also used to identify hazard areas where grit and calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) could be used to prevent ice forming on roads.

"During the colder months we need to deal with ice in some areas," Brady said.

"This substance lowers the temperature at which water on the road surface freezes. We apply this based on local knowledge of hazard spots, and thermal mapping."

This week, motorists travelling between Canterbury and the West Coast via State Highway 73 could face extensive delays.

Waka Kotahi said a 13km stretch between Otira and Arthur's Pass would be temporarily closed between 10am and 4pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, but forecast rain could add another day to the work.

The crews would carry out electricity upgrades to a damaged conductor that supplies electricity to the West Coast.

Throughout winter, and the rest of the year, motorists were advised to check Waka Kotahi's website for road works, traffic, detours and delays.

"As always, it is important to drive to the conditions, and we encourage road users to slow down in areas we have applied CMA or grit," Brady said.

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