The NZ Transport Agency is urging motorists to avoid non-essential travel on rural highways in Manawatu and Whanganui, with heavy rain causing widespread slips, surface flooding and closures.
Crews are putting in a tireless effort to reinstate the Waikawa Stream Bridge on State Highway 1, and we are now hopeful of reopening the bridge late this afternoon/early evening, if conditions permit.
SH56 is closed north of Opiki due to flooding at the Manawatu River Bridge. Follow signposted detour.
SH54 remains closed. This means there is no longer a detour available for the closed section of SH1 between Bulls and Hunterville.
Please note this also means that the only north-south route open is SH2 between Wellington and Hawke's Bay.
The SH3 Manawatu Gorge remains open, although its status is subject to change.
As per the messages below, flooding and slips are widespread, and we advise against non-essential travel on rural highways. Contractors are out in force to clear the highways and get them safely reopened as soon as possible.
Central Regional Performance Manager Mark Owen says all highways have been affected by slips, debris and surface flooding, and the Transport Agency is advising people to avoid travelling on them unless essential.
State Highway 4 between Whanganui and Raetihi has been closed due to multiple slips and trees blocking the road. State Highway 3 between Bulls and Whanganui is closed due to flooding. SH1 between Bulls and Hunterville is closed with a detour in place. State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge is open but has also experienced a number of minor slips.
Meanwhile, State Highway 1 remains closed north of Manakau in Horowhenua due to floodwaters undermining the banks of Waikawa Stream Bridge.
The highway is likely to remain closed until tomorrow at the earliest as crews work to restore the bridge. It was closed at around 11am last night. Crews are onsite, and expect to be in a position to make a more thorough assessment of the bridge's status during daylight hours.
Motorists travelling from Manawatu towards Kapiti/Wellington, or vice versa, will need to use SH2 and SH3 as a diversion. This is a significantly longer route and motorists will need to allow extra time for their journeys.
"We recognise that the diversion is a major inconvenience for travellers and the freight industry, and our contractors are working hard to get it safely reopened," says Regional Performance Manager Mark Owen.
"There's been a huge amount of rain, and it has caused the river to rise and wash away parts of the bank that the bridge relies on for support.
"Safety is our first priority, and we need to make sure the bridge is safe and secure before it reopens to traffic."
“Slippery roads are much more dangerous, as they can turn minor errors into major problems," says Mr Owen.
“Heavy rain and wind can also result in debris on the road, so keep your eyes peeled for any obstructions.”
He says contractors working throughout the highway network to clear roads and respond to hazards.
"We have crews out in force throughout the network dedicated to getting the roads cleared and safely reopened as soon as possible."
For up to the minute information about highway conditions, please visit http://beta.nzta.govt.nz/traffic(external link) or call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS
For personalised information about driving conditions on their frequently used routes, motorists can check out and sign up to On The Move at www.onthemove.govt.nz.(external link)