A short detour will be in place on State Highway 73, the Arthur’s Pass route between the West Coast and Canterbury, from Tuesday, 26 April, for two to three weeks, depending on the weather.
The detour is at Mingha Bluff, east of Arthur’s Pass township, where the NZ Transport Agency is realigning the road for improved safety and visibility. The detour will take the road over the railway line to the north for about 500 metres. The one-lane detour will be controlled with temporary traffic lights.
“When a train is on the track, gates and other safety measures will be used to ensure no one is on the road detour,” said Colin Knaggs, Transport Agency Highway Manager. “This detour may cause delays of up to 10 minutes when a train is passing through, but delays will be short at other times. This same detour was used in January this year successfully.”
The detour will allow the Transport Agency’s crew to safely complete sections of the retaining wall around the bluff.
Background on the Mingha Bluff Realigment Project
Work began on this $22 million project nearly a year ago and it is expected to take around two years to complete.
It will deliver the most significant safety improvements on the state highway between Christchurch and Greymouth in more than a decade. “The new road will be a safer and more forgiving route, with many tight curves removed, dips and hollows smoothed and a wider, nine metre carriageway,” said Mr Knaggs.
This is one of five critically important highway projects(external link) included in the government’s accelerated regional highways package announced in June 2014.
The project will improve safety on a 5km length of the state highway from Mingha Bluff to Rough Creek. The highway will be realigned closer to the railway line and widened to improve safety and reliability, at the same time minimising environmental impacts on Arthur’s Pass National Park.
Mr Knaggs said other sections of the highway have undergone substantial upgrades in the past with projects such as the Otira Viaduct and Candy's Bend improvements. These have seen a steady increase in traffic as drivers now view State Highway 73 as a safer and more reliable route.