Several key highways linking regions of the South Island will remain closed today due to ongoing flooding, slips, and damage to the highways, says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency System Manager Pete Connors.
The Rangitata River bridge, between Timaru and Ashburton, will stay closed for today. The alternate local Upper Rangitata Route 72, over the bridge at Arundel, will also remain closed with a number of areas of damage.
“Until the waters recede, we cannot get in to do the repairs needed,” says Mr Connors. “We have crews and machinery ready to reinstate the highway and ensure it is safe for all road users once the flood waters from the river’s tributaries have been contained back into their main flow.”
There is now access south of Hokitika as far as Harihari, SH6, for residents and essential services like milk tankers, says Mr Connors. This was established Saturday evening.
There is also access for essential services and people who are needing to go further south between Haast and Makarora on the Otago side of SH6, from 9 am today till 4 pm.
After those hours, once the highway is closed each evening, crews will be working at Clarke Bluff rockfall site closer to the Haast Pass to secure that site.
These daily opening hours will continue for the next two to three days through this section of highway.
Crews have a lot of work to do in this central part of SH6 with multiple slip sites and it is unlikely to be open for some days. (See photo below near Whataroa.)
Civil Defence details and information for Otago region where the rising water levels in lakes Wakatipu and Wanaka and the Clutha River are also being closely monitored and actions taken to keep people safe: