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‘Step changes’ on the hill

Night roadworks on State Highway 2, near Featherston. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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Highways officials are happy with progress on maintenance work on the Remutaka hill section of State Highway 2 after the latest overnight road closures.

The stoppages were the second of three planned five-night blocks of maintenance and slip prevention work.

Upgrades included road marking, putting in new safety features such as reflectors on barriers, improving drainage, and slip prevention.

Mark Owen of the New Zealand Transport Agency said the features will be “a huge advantage for people driving over the hill at night”.

Owen visited the workers during the final shift on Friday morning.

Fewer than five per cent [291 of 6650] of journeys over the mountain pass are made at night. But having no traffic – except for an NZTA shuttle service and emergency callouts – meant faster, safer work, he said.

“It’s a huge advantage for us to have the hill closed. It gives a whole lot more freedom for the workers to get in and do what they need to do,” Owen said.

“The workers felt really good about it being safe. It’s quite challenging in the dark. You have lights, but once you’re away from the lights, it’s dark and not necessarily on stable ground, so it’s not an easy environment.

“But all the workers I asked said they felt safer as they did not need to worry about moving vehicles going over the hill.

“Rather than us drip feeding it over week by week and having all these daytime closures, they’ll hit it hard with these week closures.

“There’ll be a whole lot of work all at once and you’ll see step changes rather than those small incremental changes that we do elsewhere.”

There will be another week-long block of closures for works in May. Traffic will also be stopped on single nights in April, July and September.

Planned State Highway 2 [Remutaka hill] closures for 2020

Sunday, April 5 [from 9pm to 4am, Monday April 6]

Sunday, May 3 [9pm] finishing Friday, May 8 [4am]

Sunday, July 12 [from 9pm to 4am, Monday, July 13]

Sunday, September 13 [from 9pm to 4am, Monday, September 14]

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