Takaka Hill repairs: plenty of progress and more is to come

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Motorists who travel between Golden Bay and Nelson over the Takaka Hill will have noticed several areas of improvements on the road’s repairs this past summer.

The NZ Transport Agency’s Tasman Journeys team has made good progress repairing 10 sites in recent months, says NZTA project manager Reece Foster.

Sections of State Highway 60, the only road link to Golden Bay, were washed out on Takaka Hill after ex-tropical-cyclone Gita hit the South Island in February last year. Hill traffic was restricted to organised convoys for several weeks until stop/go traffic management went in place, and then traffic lights enabled the highway to be open 24/7.

Red dots are the five badly damaged sites with design work underway now. The gold dots are the 10 less badly damaged sites repaired this summer and to the end of June this year.

“Repairs to 10 sites within the single lane areas managed with traffic signals have gone well over the 2018/19 summer peak road repair period,” says Foster. “Retaining wall structures and ground stabilisation will be completed over the next two months.

“Design work for the remaining five more significantly damaged sites is now underway by Beca. This work involves repairing large sections of badly damaged road. Our geotechnical team has been hard at work over the summer drilling boreholes and digging test pits to take rock and soil samples. This will ensure the designs for these major repairs will be robust and based on the local conditions at each site. In turn, this will help increase the resilience of this winding hill road in future heavy rain events.”

Diorite (an igneous rock) sample from Takaka Hill

Foster says that construction is scheduled to begin this coming spring, aiming to be completed in the first half of 2020. This means that hill drivers have another year of traffic lights and short delays before the two-lane highway is restored.

“We appreciate that local people in particular have to factor in short delays on every journey between Golden Bay and the Riwaka side of the hill. Thanks for your patience and for taking care around our crews, who have been working in tightly constrained spaces on some of the repair sites, right inside tight bends or directly below the highway.

“We encourage everyone to maintain cautious driving over the winter when repair work will be scaled back, but lights will be retained, through to the completion of this work.”