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Roading company Higgins sets up shop in the Coromandel

10 November 2017

National roading company Higgins is establishing depots in the Coromandel now that the NZ Transport Agency has awarded it the contract for management and maintenance of state highways in the eastern Waikato.

The contract began on 1 November and covers 530km of state highways in Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki and Matamata-Piako districts.

Higgins is working from a main base in Morrinsville and two additional bases in Kopu and Whitianga, with 14 office staff (including three staff from consultancy Beca) and 17 dedicated field crew in total to cover the region.

Our Council currently contracts maintenance of district roads to Broadspectrum, which previously held the NZTA contract for east Waikato. A number of local employees of Broadspectrum will continue to work on our district roads, while Higgins has brought across many of the former Broadspectrum staff to work on the new NZTA contract while also hiring other local staff.

Higgins will also work with many subcontractors across the Coromandel, drawing on local people with local knowledge.

“We are very pleased to be awarded the contract for the management and maintenance of the state highways in the east Waikato," says Mike Manion, East Waikato Contract Manager. 

"Working with our partner Beca and a team of local subcontractors, we’re committed to providing a step change in service on the network - bringing the lessons learnt from our experience in the successful delivery of our other Network Outcome Contracts (NOC) to the east Waikato network.”

The NOC is a relatively new contract model that NZTA has implemented across New Zealand over the last few years. These contracts focus on delivering good outcomes for road uses through investing in the right treatment at the right time.

"It puts the onus on us to manage the network well and perform," says Mr Manion.

Crews on hand

Photo: Higgins will be called out to deal with incidents like this slip on the Thames Coast Road (SH25) at Ruamahunga Bay in autumn 2017.

NZTA’s Transport Systems Manager, Karen Boyt, says Higgins has a track record on other regional contracts in New Zealand and is well equipped to cover east Waikato.

“We are committed to being responsive to issues on the roads so there will be purpose-built cyclic vehicles out on our roads, identifying and where practicable resolving issues. There will also be a dedicated heavy maintenance crew that will undertake more permanent repairs,” Ms Boyt says.

Higgins will have four cyclic crews patrolling the state highways - an increase from two - and more suitable machinery and equipment available in order to better react to slips and other events on the roads.

”The new contract provides an excellent opportunity for the Agency to enhance what the NOC delivers for our customers, based on what they had said through everyday interactions and community meetings,” says Ms Boyt. “Things like improved incident response to key parts of the Coromandel Peninsula, traffic congestion hot spot management, and improved geotechnical information will all drive improved outcomes for customers.”

Ms Boyt says monitoring traffic volumes and congestion will also be a key part of the contract.

“We’ve placed an emphasis on proactive traffic management. We’ll monitor the flows using real time data and move traffic management into place at key congestions points to reduce frustration for our customers,” Ms Boyt says.

After the storms

"I'm really pleased to see this level of commitment to the state highway network in the Coromandel," says our Mayor, Sandra Goudie. "Those roads are the lifeline of our district," she says.

"With the major storms last autumn and the heavy rain over the winter, there was a genuine concern at the condition of the highways on both the east and west coasts of the Coromandel and the road closures that proved extremely frustrating for residents and visitors," says Mayor Sandra.

NZTA has undertaken a considerable programme of works on SH25 and 25A to fix damage and reduce the risk of further slips and rock falls. Work on the rockwall at the ‘Narrows’ near Kereta on SH25 has just started and will be complete before Christmas.

NZTA is now investigating and designing resilience projects to further improve the Coromandel's state highways. They are going to notify the public as soon as more information is available. These projects will take place over the next year to June 2018 and will include:

  • SH25A near Kopu, retaining wall
  • Boundary Creek, rock protection wall
  • Kereta Hill, retaining wall (section 2)
  • Whangapoua Hill, retaining walls at two sites
  • Kuaotunu Hill, retaining walls at two sites

For more information on the SH25/SH25A Thames-Coromandel project, contact NZTA on coromandel@nzta.govt.nz or see www.nzta.govt.nz/thames-coromandel.

If any road user sees a problem on state highways, they can call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49) to alert the call centre team who will bring this to the attention of the contractor.

You can register for NZTA alerts for your journey at: www.onthemove.govt.nz.

For updates on state highway conditions go to: www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/

You can also check NZTA's Facebook and Twitter pages:

www.facebook.com/NZTAWaikatoBoP/

www.twitter.com/NZTAwaibop/

Any updates on the status of our Council's local roads will be posted on our website, Facebook page and via email newsletters like this one.