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New safety gates for South Westland between glacier towns - NZTA

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The NZ Transport Agency will be installing permanent highway safety barrier gates at two places on State Highway 6 in South Westland in August: at the north end of Fox Glacier township and south of Docherty Creek Road, south of Franz Josef township.

"The decision to install these safety barrier gates on the Fox Hills stretch of SH6 came out of our experience during ex-tropical-cyclone Fehi early February, 2018," says Transport Agency Acting System Manager Colin Hey.

"As part of our debrief on that event with Civil Defence, emergency services and the local community, we identified that the installation of road closure gates at each end of the Fox Hills would help to keep people clear of this challenging section of road in future storm events.

"The gates will be used infrequently and will be manned at all times when they are closed so that the reason for the temporary closure can be advised to drivers accordingly. They will only be used in extreme weather or similar emergency events where it is necessary to close the road to protect life and limb. Closing the gates in these situations will also reduce the need to put emergency service personnel into risky situations, for example, by drivers getting trapped between slips."

Only the Police, a Civil Defence Controller or a road controlling authority like the Transport Agency will be able to decide if the gates should be closed or not.

The gates will be installed by the end of August at a cost of $30,000, says Mr Hey.

These gates are part of a longer term review of how the Transport Agency manages some of the more challenging sections of road on the West Coast, and further gates may be installed on other high-risk in the future, he says.

They are already used in high altitude areas like the Desert Road which runs through the middle of the North Island and is sometimes snowed in over winter requiring people to take alternate routes. (See photo below.)

Existing gates on SH1 Desert Road in the North Island:

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