The Waka Kotahi - Transport Agency’s Milford Road Maintenance contract is in the iconic Milford area, Piopiotahi. The Milford Road, including the 1.2km Homer Tunnel, provides the only pavement link to the Milford Sound, and as such, is a key transportation route for the tourism industry. Awarded to Downer NZ in 2008 after decades of service in the area, the contract involves the maintenance of >200km of SH94/95, and 16km of unsealed road belonging to Southland District Council (Lower Hollyford Rd).
The work scope includes pavement repairs, cyclic patrol, drainage, traffic services, guardrail, bridges, vegetation control, incident response and a heavy winter maintenance component. Unique to this roading contract is the internationally recognised Avalanche Programme and the maintenance and management of the Homer Tunnel assets. These specialist areas, combined with the intensity of the Incident Response common in this breath-taking and extreme environment, are what makes this contract stand out amongst the rest.
Fiordland is a world-renowned visitor destination and one of New Zealand’s greatest tourism assets; the area entertains over a million visitors a year. The criticality of the Milford Road network performance cannot be underestimated, in its impact on both the local stakeholder community and the New Zealand tourism industry.
The safety, economic, social, environmental and reputational risks linked to this network’s performance is well understood by Downer, and a mantel they have shared with Waka-Kotahi Transport Agency for decades.
Unique to this roading maintenance contract is the internationally recognised Avalanche Programme and the maintenance and management of the Homer Tunnel assets. These specialist areas, combined with the intensity of the Incident Response common in this breath-taking and extreme environment, are what makes this contract stand out amongst the rest.
Downer sees themselves as the custodian of this unique and spectacular network, having been part of its success story since the day of the Public Works Department. Successive generations of the Downer family have played a critical part in the infrastructure development of the area, including the construction of the Milford Road and Homer Tunnel (1935 – 1954). Downer has been part of the fabric for decades and are immensely proud of their role.
Effective collaboration with Waka Kotahi - Transport Agency and network consultants has resulted in improved problem solving and significant cost-savings throughout contract delivery. Arguably more notable on this state highway network than any other in the country is collaboration amongst the wider network stakeholder group. Shared objectives of network safety and connectivity, shared communications and an excellent relationship amongst the key stakeholders keeps this group closely aligned.
Critical to the safety of the Milford Rd network are these specialised programmes, which are subject to on-going development in-house using local, national and international expertise. Downer’s avalanche programme, includes a Ten-Year Asset Management Plan that itemises all avalanche-related assets' maintenance requirements.
The effective management of the Homer Tunnel is critical to network safety. While the winter months carry the threat of avalanche and driver conflict (people exiting vehicles causing delays and safety risks), the summer months carry the threat of fire from over-heating vehicles. On-going surveillance of the tunnel is crucial to road user safety. Dedicated technicians from Downer’s Integrated Traffic Solutions (ITS) team manage and maintain the systems associated with the tunnel and avalanche programmes. These include weather stations, data repeaters, radio equipment, and CCTV monitoring (radar, VMS and camera). Tunnel management includes transfer of dangerous goods, and the planned and reactive asset maintenance of traffic signals; CCTV equipment; radar and associated infrastructure; pavement and rock bolting.