Rest Area 300m: May 2006

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Portal Polishing

Is your tunnel grimy and covered in dirt?
Caked on grease and road-grime?

Make your Portal Pristine

Blast away those decades of dirt,
Tunnels R Us...

Why? I hear you ask.

Well it makes it easier for a geoligist to study the rock strata, and determine what needs to be done to widen it.
It is also being surveyed, for the same reason.

It was a cold wet job.

Tomorrow, first thing, a bit of boating on the river.

Down there.

We will need a fog horn


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Grappling With Posts ...

This is a cool machine.

The guys at the timber yard just call it "The Bell".
They originally came from South Africa and were used for handling sugar cane, now they are made here under licence.

The grapple can rotate, and the whole machine can spin around in it's own length. The rear wheel is just a castor trailing wheel.

The driver had just grabbed a strapped bundle of posts, and cut the strapping with the grapple.
He grabbed a heap of them, rotated the bundle and counted them end on with out leaving his seat, and now is loading them onto the truck.
He then shot back and grabbed the extra few to make up the tally.

There is something really pleasurable about watching a skilled operator in a neat machine.

On the way home I remembered seeing a photo which showed a somewhat similar driving position.
I finally found it

Not a tree in sight though ...

Monday, May 29, 2006

Frosty Morning
Uruti Taranaki

"OK, Well I'll let you off this time.
But do it again and I'll have to smack your bottom..."

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Soggy Saturday

Saturday is usually a cruisy, uneventful day.
I trundle the highway picking up rubbish from the rest areas

Not today though.
It all went wrong from the start.

I came around a corner a couple of kilometres from home in steady rain to find a motorbike on the road and the rider lying there very still.
Fortunately he was alive and lucid, and a passerby got through to the ambulance on a cell phone.

It was in a nasty spot, but I had some cones and lots of flashing lights.
It is often the fact that unusual activity will slow traffic better than signs.
A furiously waving figure in a fluro vest, with a steely look in his eye, slows most.

The cop and I waited in the rain after the ambulance left, eyeing the crumpled bike and mentally figuring how long it would take for a salvage truck to recover it.
The local towie is having truck problems, and they are never keen to drive miles to pick up a motor bike anyway.

We can do it, but there are obvious issues with storing, any recovery damage, etc.
So we don't.

But I did.

I dropped it at the police station thereby saving the owner a heap, and two people getting very wet.

But not before a small slip on Mt. Messenger, on a dodgy corner, with the potential to cause chaos.
We ripped into it and had it cleaned up as the police arrived.
He didn't get wet either.

But I did ....

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Thursday, May 25, 2006


"Budget provides major funding boost for roading infrastructure"

It's true too, I got a brand new fluro vest yesterday.

And as you can see I have a few ideas for a smoko room, and dining facility.

A Personal Assistant *cough* would be nice too ...

Mind you, though $1.3 billion is a lot of dosh, maybe it is not enough....

To put things in perspective, Ireland, which like New Zealand has a population of just over 4 million people, has committed the equivalent of $NZ 70 billion in transport capital investment over the next 10 years, including $16 billion in private sector funding.

By comparison, New Zealand will be investing 1/6th of this amount over the same time, even with the latest $1.3 billion funding injection, and there is scant encouragement to private sector investment in transport infrastructure. " Scoop

I might have to emigrate to Ireland.

They must get a Guinness allowance

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


There is a new computor at our little depot in Mokau.
The boss is not at all impressed.

If it had levers and hydaulics, it wouldn't be a problem.

He walks around it warily, when he is not under the desk or poking it with a stick.

I know the feeling.
I'm like that with shovels & picks ...

Monday, May 22, 2006

A long day on our latest "Hold Up The Traffic Scheme"

Heaps of noise and dust.

I have very litttle to report. Once you have seen one hole, you have seen them all.

Now I must get in touch with my inner roadworker...


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Awakino Tunnel

Friday's accident in the Awakino Tunnel, and the logging truck accident a couple of weeks ago, both happened in vulnerable areas on State Highway 3.
Both had the potential to close the road for up to a day.

Hopefully the area where the logging truck got it wrong will now be upgraded with budget money promised for State Highways, and the tunnel has been investigated for widening.

It's a lovely tunnel. I really don't want to see them muck around with it.

I would prefer to see a wide one lane bridge alongside it, capable of carrying wide loads, and normally used for northbound traffic.
I even think it would be cheaper than moving the huge amount of rock at the south end, which
even to my eye looks faulted and hard, and difficult to move without a lot of blasting and disruption.

Still, no one gives a stuff what a roadworker thinks ....


Fungal Tip

These signs tend to puzzle tourists and townies.
Local farmers keep an eye on them though.

Facial excema is a spore borne fungal disease that can badly affect stock.
It can even give your Llama a hard time.

They also give an indication of mushrooming prospects.

Good That...

Friday, May 19, 2006

2 into 1 Doesn't Go

There is a pretty mad Aunty out there somewhere.
That's her car.
The driver of a northbound truck, came into the Awakino Tunnel this morning, confronting this car, coming head on at him on it's roof.

We were still cleaning up, and I was commiserating with the truck driver, when we heard there had been another crash, abou 20Kms south.

Fridays are often like that.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006


"The Government will plough an extra $1.3 billion into transport over the next five years, in a bid to accelerate key roading projects in the face of sharply rising costs."

And still no new shovel handle...

But there is hope.

"Transport Minister Annette King said a Waikato region funding package would also be announced tomorrow."

But I'm not holding my breath.

I bet all the money goes to get Aucklanders to the traffic jam faster.

We will get the new "Pothole Retention Scheme"

Something Missing?

Well there just seemed to be something missing, without a photo to head the post, but I'm working on it.

I'm playing around emailing to Flickr from Picasa, which sounds very geeky and all knowing.

To quote Xtra, "Normal Service will resume shortly..."

Overdrawn at Bloggar Bank.

Well it seems I have hit the image limit.

"You can fill up to 300 MB of server space with images."

Blogger seems to have no capacity to delete old images, or warn you that you are approaching 300MB of image hosting.

I am going to have to come up with a cunning plan.

Trouble is, other than up & moving camp, I can't think of one.

Moving would be a hassle, and hosting would have to be free as this blog is powered by poverty.

A cunning plan then...

Any ideas?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Art Theft

Odd things seem to be happening when I upload images.

Or Blogger is having a bad hair day.

They are out there somewhere

I'll put my top IT man on the job.

A Truly Professorial Hole

About time for another "Personal Pothole".

This actually is a repair going on, on an area of the road that has slumped badly, and broken out in a hole as the seal failed.

We have hoed it up, added lime and cement, graded and rolled it. It is in the final stages of titivation, will be rolled again and watered.

While it looks a simple operation, the road camber here runs every which way, and it was difficult to grade it to match the road.

Quite a complex and difficult hole in an awkward place.
Worthy of a professor.

Dodderytoo your hole is at the beginning of Block section 203, on the true right of State Highway 3.

(Those of you who have been paying attention will know that this means it is 203 kilometres from the beginning of the highway in Hamilton, and true left & right are determined facing south.

Looking South you can see the small sign denoting the start of 203. From here to the start of the next block section there will be a "peg" every kilometre, 203/1, 203/2 etc.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

12 O'Clock Low

"Pilot to Bum aimer
All yours now, Make it count"

Frosty Jack

Our Traffic Controller was a happy man today.

We all were

A beautiful autumn day after the first real frost, and our Mountain showing off after the first fall of snow that closed the Desert Road overnight.

Mind you it was cold when we started work in the Uruti Valley, very close to where Vigil was filmed many years ago.
The native Toitoi always looks at it's best on a frosty morning, but the machinary is reluctant to start, and for once it is good to get on a shovel and warm up a bit.

This is getting near an old stamping ground of mine, so there was lots of waves and shouts, and even a wedding invitation.

We are still a ways north of the pub, but working our way south at a good rate.

Might get interesting...

Mt Taranaki Web Cam

Monday, May 15, 2006

Feel The Power

"There are currently no known problems with the Xtra Network."

Oh really?

Jetstream is suddenly Jetdrip.

splutter, cough, clang.

Moaning Blues.

We had a real wintery southerly today.

Of course we were working in a cold, windy, shaded valley, with icy fingers and running noses, and none of us wanting to be roadworkers.

Naturally we did what real men do. We whined and complained, and swore and moaned.

We are trying to finish construction work which got landed on us after summer delays.

Tar doesn't stick well in the cold, nothing dries out. Pull off the road and there is a good chance you will get stuck.

So we had plenty to moan and whinge about.

Of course I can rise above all this.

I just complained long and hard, about all the moaning and whining...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

That reminds me
Nearly time for my annual haircut,,,

Out of the mouth of babes...

"In some religions a man can have many wives, and this is called polygamy.
In our religion a man can have one wife, and this is called monotony."


Donut Meetings

Once a month, we have a breakfast gathering at our depot.

We are heavily bribed to attend with cream donuts.

It gives us a chance to find out what is going on in the wider company world, rather than in the stretch of our existence that is our part of the Highway system.

We get a ritual flogging over tardy time sheets, have a bit of a whinge about the lack of, or oversupply of, work.
Then after a huge feed stagger back to work, feeling slightly more loved, and having caught up on the current gossip.

A man will do nearly anything for a donut...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Weeping it's a Willow

Through the pouring rain this morning, and in pitch darkness, I came across a fallen tree.
I had a little warning from a truckie on his Cb.

It had managed to block both lanes, and was just out of the Awakino tunnel.
Fortunately there was just enough room for traffic to squeeze past.

My truck has 3 flashing lights and is highly visible, something I have come to really appreciate.

Traffic that will ignore the smaller light work trucks, will pass mine gingerly, as it sits there flashing away looking like something from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

So I wandered around in the pouring rain guiding traffic and awaiting the Cavalry.

Our local policeman, Sergeant Snapper, arrived with more flashing lights, but no hot pies, (Police Brutality) and we saw in a soggy dawn.

Unfortunately I don't carry a chainsaw, which is a hassle, most trees seem to come down in the area I live, and I'm already an old hand at tree removal. I come across them often.
Usually it is pretty easy to cut away the head of the tree, and so get a lane of the road open quickly.

Our Loader is in Hospital, though it is not quite as old as Keith Richards, getting it's valves & plumbing done,
so we cut it up into manageable hunks and winched it onto the truck.

Alas it was a rotten old willow, so to the tip it went.

No firewood there...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Long Range Wireless Mouse

I'm in the Faroes at the moment.

Well, I'm not, but my computer is.

At least that is what I've told it.

It's that Windows Media Player you see. The sucky thing keeps trying to sell me stuff when I use "More Info" to try and get album information.

It used to go to, and give you track listings, reviews and useful stuff. Now it just wants to hook up to some online store.

So I sent my computer to The Faroes, where online stores are scarce, and now all is good.

I might have to watch for penguin kack in the hard drive though.

Thorshavn Weather

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Walking Blues

We often have trouble with speeders through our worksites.

The law of physics catches up with a fair few of them, and the tow-trucks and panel shops make a good dollar.

Now and then the Highway Patrol will stake out a section of road works, they usually do a good trade.

Sunday April 30 Waitomo News
"A 56 year old Auckland man copped a 28 day licence suspension after travelling at 101 km/h through a 50km/h roadworks area on Awakino Hill. His car was secured by police."

A while back a cop nailed an oncoming car through one of our sites. The driver was allowed to drive the car to a wide area outside a local hall, the only building for miles around, after that he had to hitch hike.

Over the limit by 40 kph + and you walk.

Which is a bit worrying if you own a sports car...

(whoops, ... I should point out that walking commences 40k/ph over a permanent posted speed limit, & over 50 kp/h for a temporary speed limit )

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Worthy Cause

While we slog away on the road ...

Retired Roadworker wins Gazillions.

"A retired couple from a Fife village are celebrating becoming Scotland's latest lottery millionaires.

Mary Dowie, 58, and her husband Jim, 60, from Cardenden, won stg 2.9m in last weekend's draw.

They vowed to be "sensible" and stay put in the village where they have lived for 40 years, but said they might splash out on a holiday home in Spain.

The housewife and her husband, a former council road worker, also vowed to help their family."

Sensible ?
They should be shot at dawn.
They are giving us on the road a bad name.

Not that I would over indulge ...

Monday, May 08, 2006

Have A Good Day?

Some days nothing goes right.

You would be better staying in bed.

We turned up at our work site the other day, all keen and eager to dig up the road and hold up the traffic, and the rotary hoe had a flat tire. Not just the lack of air variety, but the valve stem had ripped away.

We were working a good hour away from civilization.

The tire man arrived and had a wrestle with it. When all was done he started his compressor to inflate it, and it didn't.
Start, that is.

The neighbouring farmer came to the rescue, and we used his compressor.

We started ripping up the road, and finished our first patch as the wiring on the hoe caught fire.

A Sparkie came from town and fixed it.

We moved down the road to start our next patch.

We prepared it all and spread lime and cement out to hoe into the road.

Another flat tire. Valve stem again.
Tire Man again

The vibrating roller suddenly didn't. Vibrate that is..
Sparkie again.

We ended up having to give up in disgust and use a broom tractor to sweep all our expensive product off the road in the gathering gloom.

I took my time driving home.

I was pleased to get there...

Sunday, May 07, 2006


I went shopping over the weekend.

In an impulsive burst of generosity I bought the missis a wheelbarrow

(It's quite a walk to the woodshed)

I am indeed, a kind, thoughtful, and considerate man.
(and humble with it)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Day At The Office...

click for bigger

There is quite a lot going on in this series of pictures...

We are cleaning up the debris benches on Mt Messenger, getting rid of small slips.

This section of our highway is not a good place to stop heavy trucks. We try to avoid doing so.
They are either slogging up the hill and might miss a gear change and stall with a fair bit of ensuing drama, or the down hill traffic could be riding the brakes and in too high a gear.
It can be a bit stressful for the Stop/Go guys, and we all have to be on our toes.

The loader is ferrying material to the truck parked not quite off the road on the widest part of the bottom corner, the downhill Stop/Go is around there out of sight.
One of the crew is tidying up the kerb with a shovel.
We are all linked by radio on a common channel.

"Heavy coming down"

The loader has scuttled back and is hidden by the truck. You can see the difference in body language, and the guy on the shovel is also glancing back.

This is a situation where the CB radio is helpful. Hopefully the truck has been warned further up the road by a northbound mate.

I took these photo's from my truck and am also monitoring the CB channel

The truck will pass, and the process will repeat many times, but you can never relax.

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Friday, May 05, 2006

Toxic Shock Syndrome

Duck Shooting Season starts in NZ tomorrow morning.
Those unlucky ones that do get blasted from the sky will at least be downed with non-toxic shot.

It's so the rest of the ducks don't get poisoned you see...

How bizarre is that ...

I bet if we had firing squads, they would ban the final cigarette on passive smoking grounds...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Getting It Wrong

The stretch of road involved in the logging truck accident posted below, has been a source of worry for years.
There are no detours. Just a long wait if something happens.
Just a few days ago I was following a rig through there and he said to his mate on the cb, "You wouldn't want to get it wrong through here..."

A couple of local newspaper reports, a few months apart tell the sorry story

Sorry for the length, (a curse on short term news links)

30 April 2005

A notorious stretch of Taranaki's northern outlet will undergo a $1.1 million upgrade.
Work on the 2km narrow and winding road between the Awakino Hotel and the Junction Service Station on State Highway 3 is scheduled during the2005-06 year.
The road, which has claimed at least two lives in recent years, will be widened and corners smoothed.
In October 1998, a Stratford woman and her three-year-old son died when their car went off State Highway 3 and plunged into the river 800m north of the Awakino Hotel.
Any accidents can close the road for hours, and cause major traffic disruption on Taranaki's only highway north.
On June 22, 2001, it was closed for six hours when an offal truck tipped over 1km north of the hotel.Vehicles were backed up 3km each way from the accident with no possibility for diverting the traffic while emergency crews cleared the spillage from the truck.

The upgrade plans were revealed at a Taranaki Regional Council meeting earlier this week."The security of our routes out of Taranaki is a high priority, so it's quite a sensible move," transport committee chairman Roger Maxwell said.
The project has been moved to second priority on the Taranaki Regional Land Transport Committee's list and there are hopes of financial assistance from the Waikato district council.
Councillor David Walter noted the road's reputation and its track record of accidents. The widening of the road and easing of corners would go some way towards fixing these problems."If it didn't go ahead now then my feeling is it would not go ahead for another 10 to 12 years," Mr Walter said

Anger flares at road funds snub
26 July 2005
The omission of major Awakino roadworks from the Government's 10-year to-do list has put Taranaki roading authorities on a collision course with Government transport funding agencies.
After extensive consultation for more than six months, the Taranaki Regional Land Transport Committee (TRLTC) rated both the repair of the subsiding road north of the Awakino pub and the widening of the Awakino tunnel as high priorities.
But when the 10-year State Highway Plan was released earlier this month, the TRLTC was outraged to see the two projects were not listed.The committee had determined the road between the pub and the Awakino garage was fragile and in danger of disappearing into the adjacent Awakino River.
At the TRLTC meeting at Stratford on Friday, Transfund, Transit NZ and Land Transport New Zealand representatives were called to account.
TRLTC member Tom Cloke said the omission was a joke."To have it ignored when we put it as a top priority, are we being treated as fools in the provinces? We get sick of your damned processes," Mr Cloke said.
LTNZ Ian Hunter responded that the distribution of money had been made more difficult because Transit had been working on a different time-frame from LTNZ.
The two authorities were holding talks to try to make sure it would not happen again, Mr Hunter said.Barry Finch said the committee needed to be sending a signal to the Government to get it right.
Acting chairman David Walter said the committee would strongly object in a move to get the two priority jobs reinstated.
A letter would be sent to the LTNZ, outlining the committee's concern that the priorities had been given very little weight, despite extensive consultation, Mr Walter said.
And an urgent meeting would be called between LTNZ, TNZ, Taranaki's Technical Advisory Committee and the State Highway 3 Working Party to work through the issues.In the meantime, the Government had found another $500 million for transport, Mr Walter said.
The motion was passed unanimously.Transit regional manager Errol Christiansen, of Wanganui, said $304 million had been approved for Taranaki roading projects over the next decade.
The determination of where the funding would go was an annual process, Mr Christiansen said.

While they are squabbling, I hope nobody else "Gets it wrong ..."

I'm also puzzled as to why The Daily News didn't link these reports to their news story.
Not very professional.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

From The Roadworker's Log...

click for bigger photo's

When you first arrive at an accident scene and see the rescue helicopter, it is with mixed feelings.

Obviously someone is injured, but it is good to see professionals on the job. Medical help is scarce in rural communities.

Here we have a logging truck and trailer on it's side. The trailer is over the bank, most of the logs also, but quite a few are on the road. With the truck across the road like this nobody is going anywhere soon.

Before the helicopter has lifted off, cleanup begins, engine oil being dealt with here.

The helicopter leaves for Taranaki Base Hospital, sometimes Waikato.

A digger is rounded up, and ushered through the banked up, waiting traffic.
It is offloaded onto the road.

It pushes the logs off the road

And as it is starts to get dark, lifts the truck onto it's wheels

The truck is dragged over to the north lane of the road, and now we can let traffic through till the crane arrives.

The crane has to lift the trailer onto the wrecked truck

Some hours later, the truck is finally loaded onto a transporter and taken away.
The road is cleaned up and made safe and then it's Home Time!

Then at dawn this morning the logs are recovered and loaded onto another truck.
A truck mounted grab does this, you can see the operator sitting up there under the lights.

At lunch we read about it in the paper (probably short term link)

Then it's away to clear slips on Mt. Messenger.

Oh it's all fun on the road....

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