The NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists to take care as heavy rain continues to fall around the Coromandel and Bay of Plenty.
A heavy rain warning has been issued for the area and flooding is expected to affect a number of roads over the next 24 hours:
- The Karangahake Gorge on State highway 2 between Waihi and Paeroa is closed due to rising river levels through the gorge.
- Also on SH2, the Athenree Gorge, which has been closed this afternoon due to a slip, will be opening shortly to one lane. One lane will remain open overnight with work crews beginning the slip clean up tomorrow.
- Motorists are advised to use either SH29 via Tauranga over the Kaimais (for Bay of Plenty motorists) or SH25A between Kopu and Hikuai (for Coromandel motorists) as alternative routes and avoid SH2 until flood waters recede.
- The Uratara Bridge, north of Katikati on SH2 has been down to one lane this afternoon because of rising river levels, but is currently open to two lanes.
- State Highway 26 at the Criterion Bridge, Paeroa is closed due to the Waikato Regional Council closing the flood gates because of rising Ohinemuri River levels.
- The Tairua River at Hikuai on State highway 25 is being monitored as levels rise as too is the Waihou River on State highway 2 north of Paeroa.
- High tide at about 10.00pm this evening is likely to affect the Uratara, Criterion and Hikuai Bridges, and could result in further closures of these bridges. Flood warnings have been issued by the Waikato Regional Council.
- On SH2 between Bruce Road and the Domain Road intersection, surface flooding is occurring and a number of potholes have formed in areas which were resealed late last week.
'The NZTA are closely monitoring all roads within the area with heavy rain due to continue to fall until later tomorrow,' says the NZTA's Acting State Highway Manager, Karen Boyt.
'Slips are also likely to occur with this quantity of rain falling and motorists should consider avoiding travel tonight in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty if at all possible. The weather front is currently moving east and could impact on the Eastern Bay of Plenty overnight, particularly the Waioeka George, Waimana Gorge and Wainui intersection,' said Ms Boyt.
'If drivers must travel we urge that they take extreme care on the highways, drive to the conditions, and allow more time for their journeys so that they can reach their destinations safely.'
Ms Boyt says before starting their journey people should check with the NZTA's freephone 0800 4 HIGHWAYS or 0800 44 44 49, or its website www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link) for up-to-the-minute info on road conditions.