State highway work set to resume at level 3

Contractors carrying out highway works before the lockdown. Photo: NZTA.

Work is set to get back underway on state highway projects around the country after New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 on Tuesday, April 28.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency General Manager Transport Services Brett Gliddon says Waka Kotahi has been working closely with its contractors and with Construction Health and Safety NZ (CHASNZ) to plan for a safe return to work following the end of the Level 4 lockdown period.

While some essential state highway maintenance work has continued during the lockdown in order to keep the network safe for the movement of essential goods and to support lifeline functions, all non-essential maintenance work and capital project work was stopped with the move to Alert Level 4 on March 26.

Brett says work on Waka Kotahi projects and non-essential state highway maintenance work will be able to resume under Level 3, but with strict health and safety protocols.

“The safety of workers and road users is our top priority, and we’re working with contractors on specific COVID-19 plans for each of our work sites. Every one of these plans will align with the strict industry standards provided by CHASNZ.

“Work at Alert Level 3 will not look like pre-pandemic work. A range of new measures will need to be in place, including restricted access to sites, requirements for workers to maintain physical distancing, and the use of additional protective clothing.”

Brett says the transition back to on-site work will be different for every project, and the timing will depend on the nature and complexity of work sites.

“Waka Kotahi has provided advance payments to roading contractors during the lockdown, so the industry is ready to get back to work next week. Some on-site activity will be able to resume straight away, but it will take time for some sites and projects to be fully operational.

“We are committed to getting New Zealand moving again, but we will not compromise on the safety of road workers or of road users.”

While travel will still be restricted during Alert Level 3, more workers would be carrying out maintenance work and Brett urges anyone driving through worksites to be patient, cautious and comply with all temporary speed limits to keep workers safe.

“These people are stepping outside of their bubbles to do vital work to keep all of us safe. Please be careful, be kind and give them a friendly wave.”

Brett says while the completion dates for many state highway projects may be affected by the Level 4 shutdown as well as the Level 3 restrictions and other effects of COVID-19, it is still too early to say what the specific impact may be for individual projects.

For further information on the resumption of state highway work see our Q&A’s here.

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