By Jonathan Bhana-Thomson, chief executive, Heavy haulage association.
The increasing amount of new road construction and maintenance activities on the nation’s roading network this time of the year inevitably leads to issues where activities conflict with the transportation of oversize loads.
The largest oversize loads transported at off-peak times, which is often the same time that major road construction that involves stop/go management, or road closures. This makes for potentially challenging on-road situations.
There are a number of ways that both parties can make each other’s job just that bit easier. Ultimately the construction team wants to get its job done efficiently and safely, while the transport operator just wants to get their job transported from A to B with as less fuss as possible.
Oversize loads are typically transported on the better roads around the country, which includes all state highways and most arterials in the bigger cities. If there is road construction happening on these routes, then the work programme and the traffic management controls put in place should include any oversize loads will come through their work site at some point.
Things to think about include:
Lane widths. As most transporters are at least 3.1 metres in width, then if traffic lanes have to be narrower than this, then there must be crews onsite to assist with the movement of cones.
Detour Routes. Most often detour routes through local roads will not be suitable for oversize loads, so planning for oversize loads to travel through the worksite area will have to be considered.
Road Closures. If the work programme means closures are being considered, then there needs to be early communication and consideration of whether there are viable alternate routes.
Communication with us
Roading contractors need to consider when is the appropriate time to start communicating to road users about the impact of the road works site.
For the oversize transport industry, this will always need to be longer than for any other road users. Much of the bigger transport work is planned many weeks in advance and operators need to know if the construction plans will impact on upcoming transport.
One avenue to use is the NZTA Freight Register, which publicly records the longer term road projects that will have an impact on freight operations. There is an ability to provide contact details, which means that operators can contact the project to discuss ahead of time any potential issues. Contact the local NZTA Journey manager if you want to find out more about this.
Early advertising of roading projects means that it gives operators the chance to contact the project site in advance, if a large load turning up at site, and discuss how this will be managed.
When a load being transported comes across a road works site that they were unaware of, or even one where contact was made beforehand, then the transport team and the road works crew need to work together to get the load through the site efficiently and safely.
This may mean moving traffic management equipment, and so the TM crew needs to be prepared to work with the load pilots that will likely be accompanying the load to achieve this.
One issue is the placement of large warning signs that are often setup as gateway signs. These will often be at the start of the site, and they will often provide a pinch point for the oversize loads.
In setting up the plan and the layout, consideration could be given to offsetting these from one another, so they still perform their role, but they do not impose a restriction to be negotiated.
Another issue is where there are unattended worksites, and operators have to manage the traffic management equipment themselves. Often a pilot at the rear of the load will have to reinstate temporary signage when they were unaware of how the design was in the first place. Our plea is to make unattended site as simple as possible, removing unnecessary clutter, and also to locate any equipment in places where they will restrict the travel of oversize loads through the site.
With these straightforward requirements, the association believes that it is possible for the transport of oversize loads, and the numerous road construction projects to work together to carry out their respective jobs.
We are finding that more and more projects and the traffic management involved are working together to get oversize loads through worksites – and we give them a big thumbs up for this. Let’s keep talking.