Men of the orange cones brigade

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Making sure everyone gets home at night is the goal of Traffic Management Services Central Otago managing director Taane Royce.

When you see dozens of traffic cones in the middle of the road, along with speed restriction signs, he is the man responsible.

Mr Royce says traffic-flow control work is always in drivers’ best interests.

His crew has been visible in the past couple of months, 24 hours a day, while Transpower New Zealand has been building the five large hurdles between Coal Creek and Fruitlands to make it easier for electricians to work on overhanging power lines between pylons, as part of its multimillion-dollar upgrade project.

Since that portion of the project started, his crews have set up and taken down hundreds of traffic cones, as well as signs and lights as required, and have been monitoring vehicle speeds and acting as stop-go crew.

With these particular projects, 90% of the work is off-road in paddocks and TMSCO staff have been managing traffic flow so Transpower workers can do their job safely.

On the odd occasion, if staff see speeding company vehicles, there have been quiet words to company owners to make them aware of the situation.

His staff had to deal with a car on its roof at Shingle Creek recently, and they called the emergency services but the driver and passenger were lucky and got out.

The company also provided traffic flow services for filming of New Zealand television series Under The Vines in Clyde, as well as for companies installing rumble strips and replacing poles.

His staff have had verbal abuse on occasion, and drivers between Alexandra and Queenstown are especially prone to getting upset and complaining, he says.

However, he said he would rather be abused than not have someone get home safe.

Staff member Glenn Ballantyne has spent much of his work time sitting in the ute cab or resetting cones.

He said it was interesting to watch the Transpower crew hanging from pylons or working from little carts on lines between two structures and pulling themselves along by hand.

The SH8 portion of the project was completed last week.

Flow down . . . Vehicles slow down as they go under one of the large hurdles erected to make it safer for Transpower staff to work on over-hanging power lines. PHOTO: YVONNE O’HARA