Sidebar: Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway
Pic: BTG161120LONNIE Caption: Lonnie Dalzell
By Lonnie Dalzell, Owner Interface Manager, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency
Kia ora readers!
It's been a busy start to the year, with our first construction season now in full swing.
We've started major earthworks at the western end of the highway alignment and continued progress on site access at both the eastern and western ends of the project area. We're also creating access facilities in readiness for construction of the project's two 300-metre bridges.
The public toilets from the old Manawatū gorge carpark have been installed in the temporary carpark, where they will remain for the duration of the project.
If you've driven over the Saddle Rd recently you may have noticed roadworks crews at the Cook Rd intersection. Cook Rd is one of the main access points to the highway construction area and is being upgraded as part of the project.
Work on Cook Rd will include new passing bays as well as a widening at the intersection of Cook Rd and Saddle Rd, to help with increased traffic volumes during construction. The passing lane on Saddle Rd near the Cook Rd intersection has been closed and Cook Rd will become resident-only access until the highway is completed in December 2024.
On the eastern side of the alignment, the main access point is at Hope Rd, Woodville. Work here will include shoulder widening, new line-marking at the intersection with Woodlands Rd, and reconfiguration of the Hope Rd 90 degree bend to create a give way intersection. These safety improvements will help separate construction traffic from other road users during highway construction and give larger vehicles room to turn safely. This work is expected to start in March.
Our landscaping team is preparing planting areas at two farms, one to the south and one to the north-east of the project area, as part of our stream and wetland offset commitment to restoring the environment.
About 12,000 lineal metres of stock-proof fencing will be installed at the farms over the next couple of months and 268,056 native plants are being grown by local nurseries, ready for planting in autumn. These plants count towards the two million that will eventually be planted across the entire project.
Our ecology team made an exciting discovery late last year – a population of rare native Meterana grandiosa moth in a stand of vegetation where the highway alignment will pass through.
The moths were in their caterpillar stage and had not yet dug themselves into the ground to pupate – giving our ecologists a short window of time to safely relocate them out of the construction path.
The caterpillars were carefully resettled 500m away on an existing area of divaricating shrublands – the same plant species they were found on – providing the moth population with plenty of vegetation. You can watch the caterpillars' careful journey on the Te Ahu a Turanga website.
And lastly, a reminder for local businesses that our procurement team will be in Dannevirke and Palmerston North next week talking about how to prepare proposals for contracts on the highway.
I encourage any local business, small or large, to come along and find out how to make the most of the opportunities the highway will bring to our local economy.
A procurement session will be held in Dannevirke on February 22, 5.15pm-7pm. Tararua REAP office, 16 Allardice St.
To RSVP or find out more, email email@example.com
For the latest news on the project go to nzta.govt.nz/teahuaturanga. For traffic and travel advisories check Waka Kotahi's Facebook page facebook.com/nztacni. To contact the project team call 0800 740 560 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.