The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is re-emphasising its message to motorists to avoid stopping on State Highway 46 near Tongariro, following volcanic activity in the area in the last month.
NZTA highway network operations manager, Karen Boyt, says the agency is working closely with the Taupo District Council, Waikato Regional Council, GNS Science and civil defence staff as further monitoring and analysis of the situation continues. "We all want to ensure that the safety of residents in the district and people travelling through the area remains a top priority as part of these efforts."
"We've been advised that debris and water volumes have been building along the mountain's waterways on the northern slopes above SH46 since the eruption," says Ms Boyt. "This material could be washed down the mountain and on to the highway. However, at this stage advice from scientists from GNS Science and the Department of Conservation is that there is no definite indication that a dam collapse will occur. Nevertheless, we want to make sure that people driving within or through the area take note of the signage in place and be aware that they should avoid stopping on the highway during their journey."
Ms Boyt says that investigations by scientific groups coordinated by GNS Science are also ongoing. The NZTA will update drivers on highway conditions in the area should any change in the current situation occur. "In the meantime, we have signage in place along the highway, reminding people not to stop anywhere on SH46 and our contractors are monitoring the area extremely closely. They will be able to respond very quickly if they detect anything of concern. We'll also be sharing this information with the other organisations carrying out their own monitoring and analysis activities in this area and they will be doing the same with us."
Ms Boyt says drivers who wish to avoid using SH46 altogether can do so by travelling via SH1, SH41 and SH47 instead. Regularly updated information on road conditions is available the NZTA's freephone 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49) or online at www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link).