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Remutaka Hill: One down, one to go

Road crews completed 3.5km of resurfacing in the first week of closures. PHOTO/NZTA

Hill transformed into 14km worksite

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The chance to close-off 14km of state highway for nine hours a night has left the New Zealand Transport Agency happy with the paving and other work it got done when it controversially closed the Remutaka Hill Rd for five consecutive nights.

NZTA issued a statement on Friday thanking motorists who were disrupted and thoroughly detailing what it got done – as well as resurfacing, the work included repairs to 244m of crash-damaged guardrails and posts.

The overnight closures, which began last Sunday night and ended Friday morning, prompted an outcry because the alternative was an inconvenient and costly 3.5 hour drive.

It’s a case of one down, one to go for motorists, as there is a second set of overnight closures from March 24 to March 28.

As many as 270 vehicles use the Remutaka Hill Rd from 9pm to 4am, but that’s a fraction of the 6400 vehicles using it during the day. It’s the main artery linking the Wairarapa and Wellington regions.

NZTA regional systems manager Mark Owen says more than 2000m2 of road was resurfaced each night.

That added up to 3.5km of resurfacing in the first week of closures.

The resurfacing is done by wide equipment, which is difficult to operate safely on the narrow road.

“For every night of the closures there could be up to 100 workers, doing up to 10 separate maintenance activities that would usually be a stop/go site on their own during the day when the road is open.”

Work goes on overnight on the Remutaka Hill Rd last week. PHOTO/NZTA

He said SH2 over the Remutaka Hill was transformed into a 14km worksite each night and the primary reason for the night closures was to improve safety for the paving crews.

“Because the narrow road needs to be closed to enable the resurfacing to be safely carried out, we are scheduling as many works as possible into the closure times to reduce day time stop/go works throughout the year,” Owen says.

There were two paving teams working with 30 trucks of asphalt and concrete delivered each night. There were also 10 road marking machines working, and in the second week of closures six abseilers will be doing work on the hill.

After complaints, the closure time was reduced by one hour and a shuttle service made available for those unable to reschedule their journey or for whom the detour route is not viable, such as shift workers.

“We do appreciate how disruptive this is for some road users. We know there are many road users who have changed their plans due to the closures, including businesses, shift workers and concert goers, and we thank them for their patience and understanding,” Owen says.

The shuttle service has also been used by some concert goers to return home to Wairarapa.

McCarthy Transport Masterton hub manager Paul Teddy has estimated the scheduled closings stopped “between 20 to 30” truckloads of logs from making it over the hill each night, resulting in “thousands of dollars” of lost income.

Kieran McAnulty said he was “absolute satisfied” that NZTA had done all it could to forewarn people of the closure.


  1. Inspired thinking to do the resurfacing during the night. It’s been happening for years overseas and least disruptive all round. Well Done NZTA.

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