Hitch for upgrade

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 07:26 19/03/2014
roadworks
Scott Hammond

Patience needed: Traffic builds up along Middle Renwick Rd, State Highway 6, where the Bells Rd/St Leonard's Rd intersection is being upgraded

Roadworks
Scott Hammond
Slow road: Traffic build up along State Highway 6

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Softer than anticipated ground has complicated an intersection upgrade on State Highway 6 just northeast of Woodbourne, Marlborough Roads says.

Traffic built up along the highway yesterday, with queues in both directions as contractors tried to deal with the problem.

Marlborough Roads, which manages state highways and local roads in the district for the New Zealand Transport Agency and the district council, is encouraging motorists to take a different route into town during the project.

Marlborough Roads' Andrew Adams, who is managing the project, said a pavement expert was visiting Blenheim today and he would be taken to the intersection to advise on what steps to take.

The State Highway 6/Bells Rd/St Leonard's Rd intersection is one of two the Marlborough District Council is paying for to be upgraded. The work is expected to cost about $500,000.

The other is the stretch of Middle Renwick Rd between Boyces Rd and the Battys Rd/Murphy's Rd intersection, also State Highway 6.

The two projects do not meet the agency's funding criteria, but councillors decided to fund them last year because of long-standing safety concerns.

Mr Adams said the Bells Rd/St Leonard's Rd intersection was a crossroads and people turning right into either of the side roads had to sit in the middle of the road before being able to turn. They had people coming behind them at 100kmh, which was "not pleasant".

The project would widen the intersection, putting in right-hand turning bays so that people could pull out of the flow of traffic.

It would also lower the hump in the road to the west of the intersection which impinged on visibility. It was that work which hit problems yesterday.

Ground conditions were not as expected, and were a lot softer than thought, Mr Adams said.

"The idea was to open up 70 metres of single lane, take it down to the design level, and then build it up again, and have two-lane traffic back for the evening.

"Because of the soft ground, we have to consider what to do, whether we dig deeper or some other geotechnical work."

This was what the pavement expert would advise on today.

Traffic had built up more quickly than expected in both directions, and Marlborough Roads would work with the contractor Crafar Crouch to improve traffic management.

"It's a good wee job but there's not much space for the contractor to work. We're trying to keep traffic moving. It's quite challenging."

Yesterday was the first day temporary traffic lights had been used at the site, Mr Adams said.

A lot of motorists were using Old Renwick Rd or New Renwick Rd rather than travel through the site, he said, and Marlborough Roads encouraged motorists to use routes other than Middle Renwick Rd.

Contractors had planned to start the work on Friday but held off until yesterday because of the expected bad weather from cyclone Lusi.

The work is scheduled to be completed before Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, visit on April 10.

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Marlborough Roads' Steve Murrin told the council's assets and services committee that this time of year was a key road construction time because of the weather.

- The Marlborough Express

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