The formation of new accessways and upgrading of existing accessways for increased traffic onto a state highway is controlled by the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA), as they are responsible for the safe and efficient use of the state highway network. Any new road access or change of use of an existing entranceway onto a state highway will require an approval from the NZTA.
All entranceways proposed for harvesting need to be assessed and may need to be improved to meet commercial entranceway conditions before starting harvest operations, including roadline salvage. Note that the entranceway requirements apply to all heavy vehicle movements and are not limited to just the harvesting operation.
The NZTA guidelines and standards for accessways provide the starting point for assessing the acceptability of the current entranceway. Refer to this document. The rule is that should one heavy or long vehicle use the entranceway per week an assessment and likely improvement will be required. Generally, entranceways being used for commercial purposes will require upgrading with acceleration and deceleration lanes and agreed turning circle radius for the off-tracking of trailers.
NZTA has developed guideline documents and a planning policy manual to help applicants assess the effects of their planned activity and to prepare an application for an accessway that has appropriate design standards. Entranceway standards and diagrams are contained in Appendix 5B of the NZTA Planning Policy Manual which can be downloaded from the NZTA website.
A suggested process to follow is briefly outlined below:
- Complete an application, making sure all the requirements have been met. Some of the key requirements are listed in the last paragraph of this subsection
- Contact the NZTA safety manager for the area and get the application details – such as the entranceway position – signed off. This will most likely require a site visit with or by the NZTA safety manager
- Get an approved traffic management plan. This needs to be submitted to NZTA by a site traffic management supervisor – level one (STMS). In-house STMSs can save time, costs and delays
- Submit the application to the local area corridor manager for approval to work within the road corridor controlled by the NZTA (road controlling authority). They can approve, decline, or require amendments
- Obtain an agreement as to work on state highway (AWaSH) permit. This is best completed in conjunction with the local corridor maintenance contractor, who will be a network control manager
- At this stage, a contractor for the works needs to be identified. Generally, the NZTA prefers to have a prequalified contractor to work on the state highway corridor. The prequalification is a requirement for all tenderers for state highway work and information can be found at this link.
- If you cannot get one of the prequalified contractors to do the work, or you wish to use a different contractor, then you can undertake the work, but it must meet the NZTA performance standards. For example, meet the GAP 65 and M4, compaction levels and cleg hammer readings, edge tapers and ditch gradients specifications. Entranceways will have to be chip sealed, so this needs consideration when selecting contractors.
Key factors that need to be considered in the NZTA application are:
- Location of the proposed entranceway, normally identified with route position numbers
- Expected traffic flows and the type of traffic using the entranceway
- Proposed geometry and lane width of the access and the state highway being accessed
- Highway access design, marking and signage that will need to be installed
- Sight distances where the traffic will first clearly see the activity at the entranceway
- Visual distractions (advertising signs etc)
- Average traffic speed or designated speed limit is identified and whether any traffic control speed restriction should be required
- Lighting, landscaping and vegetation which may cause obstruction, shading or otherwise impair visibility.
Consider seeking professional advice for state highway entrances if you do not have the level of skill or knowledge in-house. For example, it is advisable to have the entranceway surveyed and drawn up. This helps ensure the site is correctly set out and there is an accurate schedule of quantities to determine pricing.