The NZ Transport Agency says a wet alpine summer means the Mingha Bluff realignment project will be completed by the end of next summer, 2017/2018.
The $22 million project on State Highway 73 between Greyney’s Shelter and Rough Creek near Arthur’s Pass Village was initially expected to be finished by the end of March 2017.
The Transport Agency’s Highways Manager Colin Knaggs says the project is approximately 80 per cent complete.
“While we’re disappointed with the delay, contractors have worked hard to get to this point and we can’t control the weather,” Mr Knaggs says.
“As people on the West Coast know it has been a very wet summer and this has created delays in the final surfacing of the road.
“With winter approaching, the plan is to lay a temporary seal over the unfinished sections. This will protect the project over the winter months. We will lay the final seal and put the finishing touches on the project when the weather allows in summer 2017/18.”
The realigned State Highway 73 with the old highway hidden in the bush above.
What does the project involve?
The project involves realigning and widening a 5km section of SH73 to provide a safer and more reliable route. Tight corners are being removed to give drivers better visibility and dips and hollows are being smoothed to help reduce the risk of crashes.
The project is being delivered through the Government’s Accelerated Regional Roading Package. More information here.(external link)
How far along is the project?
Approximately 80 per cent complete.
What has been done to date?
The majority of the project is complete. The railway line has been realigned, bulk earthworks have been carried out, culverts and the majority of retaining walls have been built.
The section from the southern end of the project, at Greyney’s Shelter through to just north of Halpin Creek Bridge has been sealed along with the section between Snow Creek and the Rough Creek Bridge.
What is being worked on at the moment?
The section between Halpin Creek and Snow Creek is under construction at the moment. Transport Agency contractors are focusing on constructing retaining walls at present. The road will be formed once these retaining walls are complete.
What is left to do before the project is complete?
The section north of Halpin Creek to Snow Creek needs to be formed and sealed. Guard rails need to be installed along the entire project along with road marking and minor landscaping work.
When will the project be finished?
Weather dependent, the project is expected to be complete during the summer of 2017/2018.
Have there been any issues along the way?
The project is being constructed in alpine conditions, wet in summer and cold in winter. Wet days were taken into account but there have been more than expected which has contributed to the delay in completion.
Have there been any wins along the way?
Despite the tough conditions traffic impacts have been minimised and we have had good feedback about the project from the community.
Have there been any archaeological finds?
No archaeological finds. However we have collected the old ‘mile markers’ along the route. We were aware of these before we started the project. We have them in storage at the moment and we are looking into what could be done with them. They are not the original markers – these were made from limestone - the ones we have are made from concrete and were put in place in the 1950s.
What sort of things have been done to help the environment given the project is within a national park?
During the project native mistletoe has been re-seeded and a variety of small native fish that lived in streams in the path of the project have been relocated or temporarily rehomed in a special purpose facility. These fish have been breeding and will be released once the project is finished.
The project design includes a range of measures to minimise environmental impacts on Arthur's Pass National Park, for example the exposed aggregate finish on retaining walls will blend in with the surrounding environment.
We have worked closely with ECan and DOC to ensure resource consent standards are met and have also worked with Ngai Tahu to ensure the project is mindful of the iwi's traditional association with the area and ongoing relationships with the natural environment.