State Highway 6 through the Haast Pass re-opens today to 24/7 traffic – 14 months after a slip at Diana Falls closed the highway to night-time travel.
The NZ Transport Agency’s Regional Performance Manager Pete Connors says it is pleasing to have the highway re-opened to 24/7 traffic in time for the busy summer tourist season.
State Highway 6 has been closed at night through Haast Pass since a slip at Diana Falls on 10 September last year brought more than 40,000 cubic metres of rock and debris onto the highway, initially closing the highway for 11 days.
“Our contractors have worked exceptionally hard during the last year to firstly get the road re-opened after each event, and then to stabilise the slip to keep the highway open throughout the day.
“Since April, work has been underway to install Australasia’s most complex rockfall protection system on the slip face to enable us to today restore 24/7 access through Haast Pass.”
Mr Connors says the Diana Falls slip site has been one of the most challenging projects on the West Coast’s state highway network for many years, because of the steep terrain, the fractured rock, the weather, the isolation and on-site communication difficulties.
“We have taken the time to ensure that the rockfall protection system we have installed is the best long-term solution to provide the greatest protection for all road users.”
He says the Transport Agency can never guarantee 100 per cent access through the area, as one-off events like the Diana Falls slip will always highlight the vulnerability of the network which no amount of preventative maintenance can ever stop from happening.
“What the West Coast can rely on though is our commitment to work as quickly as possible to restore access – as long as it is safe to do so for both our contractors and travellers.”
Mr Connors says he would like to thank the local community and the West Coast’s tour operators and businesses for their support during the last 14 months. “We know that the frequent closures which resulted when the slip first happened caused considerable impact for many businesses and was extremely frustrating for everyone.
“I would like to personally thank everyone for their support, patience and goodwill as we have worked to get State Highway 6 re-opened to 24/7 traffic – it has been much appreciated.
“I would also like to thank our contractors for their commitment to this project and their excellent customer service. The team have worked some very long hours to keep the highway open throughout the day and everyone moving.”
Some work remains to replace the bridge and reinstate two-lane access through the area. This will result in intermittent and a single night-time closure during the next few weeks as this work is completed.
Caption: Work nears completion on the third rockfall protection fence at the Diana Falls slip site in time for today’s re-opening of State Highway 6 to 24/7 traffic.
For more information please contact:
Media Manager - Christchurch
NZ Transport Agency
T: 03 964 2885
M: 021 427 442