The NZ Transport Agency advises motorists travelling the State Highway 2 Matahorua Gorge route this weekend that they will be asked to use a detour to enable construction of the new bridge to begin as part of the SH2 Matahorua Gorge Realignment project.
SH2 through the gorge will be closed between 7am and 6pm during this and subsequent weekends to enable contractors to begin lifting in place the first sections of the new bridge that will replace the existing highway through the gorge. Vehicles will be diverted through Matahorua Road, and the NZTA asks drivers to allow extra time for the additional 8km journey.
The closures will take place on the following weekends:
Regional State Highway Manager Mark Kinvig says the closures will ensure road users are not exposed to any hazards while the bridge parts are lifted in place above the existing highway.
"These weekend daytime closures are the safest way to erect the bridge without endangering road users below, while also causing as little disruption to traffic as possible.
"We’d like to thank motorists for their patience during these closures, and the Hastings District Council for providing motorists with an alternative route."
"We’re on target to complete the entire project in 2011, and that’ll mean shorter, safer journeys in the long term for everyone who uses this important route."
The NZTA also advises that during July until mid August some daytime 10 minute closures may be required to assist with the bridge construction works.
The $30m, 3.1km realignment involves the construction of a 150m viaduct and a road over rail overbridge. The realignment eases the sharp twists and turns of the existing route through the gorge, providing a straighter, shorter journey that will be safer, easier and more reliable for motorists.
Motorists wishing to travel north and south during the closure periods will be diverted around Matahorua Road which runs between Tutira and just north of Samarkand. The primary closure points will be the intersections between SH2 and the Matahorua Road at Tutira School (and just north of Samarkand. Secondary closure points to collect people living within the cordon will also be set up at either end of the project. All closure points will be manned with clear signage provided. Electronic message signs will also be used along SH2 to warn road users in advance of the closure and diversion route.
The majority of the Matahorua Road is sealed. Some sections are narrow and twisting in nature, similar to the section of SH2 through the Matahorua Gorge. Drivers should allow an extra 10-20 minutes for their journeys and drive safely and carefully.
This work is weather dependant, and if there are any days lost to poor weather, further closures of the gorge may be required the following weekend of 7-8 August.
Up to three further weekends of daytime closures are also planned for October & November 2010 for the final bridge lifts. More information will be provided closer to these dates.